New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Supreme Court on Monday once again slammed the Centre and Delhi-NCR governments over the rising pollution levels in the region amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, asking them to explain the steps taken in compliance with the directions issued by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to control the deteroriating air quality index (AQI).

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana also questioned the Centre over the Central Vista project and asked whether continuing construction work is helping in deteroriating the AQI in the region. It also asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta - appearing for the Centre - to explain steps taken by the government to curb pollution caused by the project in Delhi.

"We're struggling how to control air pollution in Delhi, whether its Central Vista or anything else. Don't think we don't know anything. Don't flag certain issues to divert attention. Solicitor General will have to reply on this," the apex court was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The bench, which also included Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant, also directed the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to take permission of Chief Forest Conservator to cut trees for the construction of the Phase IV metro expansion project.

The court will now hear the matter on December 2.

Delhi has been struggling to control the massive spike in air pollution since Diwali. During the last hearing, the top court had asked the Centre and the NCR states to continue with their measures to curb air pollution and called for advance preventive steps with the help of IMD which has "sophisticated mechanism and tools" to deal with the situation before it becomes severe.

The court, which discussed the issue of stubble burning and the problems faced by farmers with the lawyers, once again came down on bureaucrats for their alleged inaction in dealing with this aspect.

The bench said the IMD, which now has sophisticated mechanism and tools, must be having statistical data on expected wind direction and the time period when the air quality worsens and they can be used in evolving preventive actions in anticipation by the Commission for Air Quality Management in the NCR and Adjoining Areas.

It said the measures suggested by the CAQM to deal with industrial pollution, thermal plants, vehicular emissions, dust control, diesel generators as well as encouraging work from home be continued for the time being and it will take up the matter on Monday.

(With agency inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma