Pinnacle court directs Air Quality Commission To Decide On Lifting Construction Ban, Relaxing Industrial Restrictions regarding Delhi air pollution

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The top court today directed the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to examine various intervening applications seeking lifting of construction ban and relaxation on industrial restrictions within a week. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana asked the Air Quality Commission to decide on lifting the construction ban and relaxing industrial restrictions. During today’s hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing a group of rice manufacturers, told the court that his clients only want a quick decision from the Air Quality Commission. “Mr Sibal, we are all in Delhi,” Chief Justice Ramana said in response. “We know the condition. “Just now things have started improving. They [the panel] will make a decision.” The court also directed the Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan governments to comply with an order requiring states in the National Capital Region to pay minimum wages to construction workers whose work was stopped because of the ban. The wages are to be paid from a cess collected by them from real estate companies. The court directed the two state governments to submit compliance affidavits during the next hearing. The Centre informed the court that maximum violations of norms were reported in the industrial sector, which is a major contributor to air pollution, particularly during the winter months. With this in view and the priority being accorded by the commission towards effective control of air pollution, it contemplated the shifting of industries to cleaner fuels -- and directions have been issued to all states. A total of 102 industrial units in Uttar Pradesh were closed for violating timing restrictions and 90 units in the state were penalised for working on weekends. The central air quality commission told the top court that thermal power plants that have been closed have to restart functioning by December 15 to ensure power supply to NCR. "While the number of thermal power plants that can be shut down cannot be further increased, even shutting down the six plants within a 300 km radius of Delhi would also not be feasible beyond 15.12.2021, in view of the electricity scenario," the Centre's affidavit read. As of today afternoon, Delhi's overall Air Quality Index (AQI) was at 306, according to data from System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).That means it fell in the "very poor" category. Notably, AQI between zero and 50 is considered "good," 51 and 100 is "satisfactory," 101 and 200 "moderate," 201 and 300 "poor," and 301 to 400 "very poor." The Court finally said that it expects that the commission will take a call in one week.