NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday lamented the Delhi government for not taking appropriate steps to curb the rising pollution levels in the national capital and questioned as to why schools were reopened amid plunging air quality.
On behalf of the Delhi government, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi explained that schools were reopened because pollution levels came down. However, the option of online school was still available and physical attendance was not mandatory. The state’s counsel stated that the closure of schools would add to learning loss of the students.
When the counsel said the state was ready to comply with the court’s directions on the closure of schools, the bench shot back, “Don’t use our shoulders”. It also took exception to the Delhi government’s ‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ campaign to curb vehicular pollution, terming it nothing but a popular slogan. The Delhi government made assurances such as work from home, lockdown and closure of schools and colleges in the previous hearings but the children were going to school while elders were working from home, the court said.
“Poor young boys standing in the middle of the road with banners, who is taking care of their health? Again, we’ve to say, other than the popularity slogan, what else is it?” it said. Singhvi told the bench that the government is taking all necessary measures to check air pollution and more than 1,500 old polluting vehicles were impounded in November.
“We think that nothing is happening as the pollution level is increasing. We think that we are wasting our time,” the bench said. “If so much effort has been made, then how is the pollution rising further. Stubble burning has also has come down,” the CJI said. “So, basically nothing is happening and everything is being done,” the CJI wondered.