December 1, 2021

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

Delhi pollution crisis: Schools, coal plants shut; SC slams bureaucratic ‘inertia’

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Delhi pollution crisis: Schools, coal plants shut; SC slams bureaucratic ‘inertia’
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Delhi pollution crisis: Schools, coal plants shut; SC slams bureaucratic ‘inertia’
Delhi pollution crisis: Schools, coal plants shut; SC slams bureaucratic ‘inertia’

NEW DELHI: Schools, colleges and coal plants have been shut in Delhi till further orders and work from home has been extended for government employees as the smog-hit national capital combats worsening air pollution.
Angry over the pollution situation in Delhi, the Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the bureaucracy for its “inertia” and “inaction”.
Meanwhile, despite some improvement in the air quality over the past two days, readings of dangerous particles on Wednesday were still as high as seven times the safe level, climbing above 300 micrograms per cubic meter in some parts of the city.
Here are the key developments of the day …
Apathy and just apathy: SC
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that bureaucracy has developed “inertia” and does not want to take any decision, leaving everything to the court.
“It is apathy and just apathy,” the apex court said while hearing a plea seeking directions to provide stubble-removing machines to small and marginal farmers for free.
“Over a period of time what I am observing, as a judge and an Advocate General also that the bureaucracy, completely, I think has developed some sort of inertia. They don’t want to take a decision. How to stop a car, seize a vehicle, how to stop a fire has to be done by this court. Everything we have to do. This is an attitude developed by the Executive,” a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said.
The Supreme Court directed the Centre and states to ensure implementation of the decisions taken in a meeting to curb air pollution.
“Enough is enough. We cannot get into all the nitty gritty of the issue. You please take the steps to deal with the emergency situation,” the bench said.
‘Those sitting in 5-star hotels blame farmers’
The bench, which did not pass any directions, also lashed out at those blaming farmers for the pollution crisis in the national capital.
“People sitting in five and seven star hotels here keep blaming farmers, that 4-5 per cent is attributed to them. After agrarian laws, what happened to their land holdings? With such small land holdings, can they afford these machines? If you actually have any scientific alternative, propose it to them, they will adopt them,” the court said.
It has been acknowledged that vehicular pollution is the major source of pollution and still “gas guzzlers and hi-fi cars” are plying on Delhi roads and nothing is being done, the bench said.
“All of you in your affidavits are acknowledging, for example, that transportation is a pollution source. We know that all gas guzzlers, tractors, hi-fi cars are plying in Delhi on every route. You are saying you will encourage people to stop it. Now how will you do this and who will encourage and who will accept” it said.
‘TV debates causing more pollution’
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, alleged during the hearing that he has been targeted in TV debates with “nasty utterances” about his submissions on contribution of stubble burning to the air pollution in Delhi-NCR. Mehta said the debates claimed that he had misled the court.
The top court, however, said: “We were not misled at all. You said 10 per cent but it was pointed out in the affidavit that it was 30 to 40 per cent. This type of criticism is bound to happen when we are holding public offices. We are clear, our conscience is clear, forget about all this. These kinds of criticisms keep happening. Our conscience is clear and we work for the betterment of society.”
The top court said that debates on TV are creating more pollution than anybody.
“They don’t understand what is happening and what is the issue. Statements are taken out of context. Everyone has their own agenda. We can’t help and we can’t control. We are focusing on working out the solution,” it said.
Delhi takes measures as air pollution soars
The Delhi government on Wednesday shut schools, colleges and other educational institutions till further orders and extended the ban on construction and demolition activities till November 21.
It has also decided to extend work-from-home for its employees till Sunday.
At a press conference after a high-level meet with officials of the departments concerned, Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai said, “1,000 private CNG buses will be hired to strengthen the public transport system. The process will start on Thursday.”
“Schools, colleges, libraries, training centres will remain shut till further orders. We have banned the entry of trucks carrying non-essential items,” he said.
Rai said the Delhi Metro and the Delhi Transport Corporation have written to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority to allow people to travel in metro trains and public vehicles standing.
The transport department has provided a list of diesel and petrol vehicles older than 10 years and 15 years, respectively, to the traffic police to stop them from plying on roads.
‘Respiratory complaints among children spike’
According to a report on Reuters, Delhi’s worsening air quality has led to a spike in chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma among children.
Doctors said that prolonged exposure to deadly pollutants could impair the cognitive development of children in the national capital.
The number of children with respiratory ailments has gone up threefold in the past seven to 10 days, said Arvind Bountra, head of paediatrics at Max Super Speciality Hospital.
“This is directly linked to high levels of pollution that the city of Delhi and NCR are witnessing…”.
There’s been a significant increase in the number of cases with respiratory and bronchial issues, said Praveen Khilnani, director of Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital.
Centre asks its employees posted in NCR to use public transport
Citing prevailing air pollution levels, the Centre has asked all its employees posted in the National Capital Region (NCR) to use public transport as far as possible while going to offices, a personnel ministry order said.
In case employees are using private or government vehicles, it is advisable that the vehicles are pooled in order to reduce their number on road, it said in the order issued to all the central government departments.
The ministry also asked all employees to strictly follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and wear masks at all times and avoid non-essential travel.
(With inputs from agencies)

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