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Supreme Court sounds alarm bells over Delhi air pollution

“Little constructive efforts have been made by the government and other stake holders to find a solution to the problem,” a bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi said. “The whole of north India is suffering, but little has been done,” the bench said takin...

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 14, 2019, 09.25 AM IST
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The air quality measured in terms of AQI remained severeplus in the NCR prompting the court to register a suo motu PIL so that it could get the executive authorities to take this up as an emergency issue.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday tore into the government for failing to check the deteriorating air quality levels in the National Capital Region, and asked it to come back with a report by December 3 on whether it was feasible to switch from the current fossil-based fuels to hydrogen-based fuels like Japan to check air pollution.

Hydrogen-based fuels are zero-emission fuels and is common in countries such as Japan, though not much is known about such fuels in India . “Little constructive efforts have been made by the government and other stake holders to find a solution to the problem,” a bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi said. “The whole of north India is suffering, but little has been done,” the bench said taking up the issue suo motu.

While another bench led by Justice Arun Mishra is dealing with the issue, CJI Gogoi nonetheless took it up upon himself to address it. When Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed that the government is examining the feasibility of switching from fossil-based fuels to hydrogen-based ones, the court jumped at the idea and sought a report on this by December 3.

At least 10 countries, including the US and China, have either switched or are in the process of shifting to hydrogen-based fuels. Vehicular traffic is blamed for a major chunk -- 40% -- of the air pollution. Stubble burning by neighbouring states such as Punjab, Haryana and western UP has also contributed to the worsening situation.

The air quality measured in terms of AQI remained severeplus in the NCR prompting the court to register a suo motu PIL so that it could get the executive authorities to take this up as an emergency issue. As per the emergency response plan in place, the government would have to shut down all schools in the region to prevent children from being exposed to the debilitating effects of air pollution should it cross the 500 AQI level.

POLLUTION WATCH
The overall Delhi AQI stood at the higher end of the ‘severe’ category, despite the effective stubble fire counts showing a decreasing trend (480 counts on November 12). A decline in biomass share in Delhi’s air quality is estimated at 13% for Thursday. The western disturbance is likely to affect northwest India in next two days which will increase the wind speed and will improve Delhi’s air quality. For the next two days, AQI is likely to deteriorate during stable night and stay in the ‘severe’ category. The air quality condition is likely to marginally improve by Friday

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