Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 14
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to spell out the steps taken by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas to deal with the problem of air pollution.
Headed by former Delhi Chief Secretary MM Kutty, the Commission started functioning last month. It has jurisdiction over NCR, including areas in Haryana, Punjab, UP and Rajasthan with regard to air pollution.
According to an Ordinance issued by the Centre, the Commission supersedes all other bodies/authorities set up through judicial orders or otherwise on air quality management and in case of a conflict between orders of the Commission and those issues by state governments, the Commission’s orders will prevail. It also replaces the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) constituted by the Supreme Court more than two decades ago.
As PILs on air pollution were taken up for hearing, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, sought two days from a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, saying the government was in the process of preparing a comprehensive affidavit for filing.
“You file your affidavit,” the Bench said, adding it should have details of steps taken till now by the Commission. It posted the matter for hearing on December 17.
During the hearing, senior counsel Vikash Singh alleged that the Commission had not done anything.
“The committee has 14 members but they have not done anything. They should file some affidavit,” Singh submitted on behalf of petitioner Aditya Dubey who highlighted pollution caused by stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and western UP.
The Bench turned down Singh’s plea for allowing mentioning of urgent matters via video conferencing. “We don’t have so many links (of video-conferencing),” the CJI told Singh.
As the newly constituted Commission for Air Quality Management (AQM) in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas started functioning, the Supreme Court had on November 6 asked the Centre to ensure there was no smog in Delhi.
“We are a court of law. This is a problem which has to be dealt with by the Executive. They have the money, the power and the resources for this. We are not abdicating our responsibility or functions but understand this, we have some limitations,” the Bench had noted.