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Matter of life and death for crores in Delhi-NCR, says SC

Matter of life and death for crores in Delhi-NCR, says SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday said it is a question of life and death of crores of people in Delhi-NCR region which is facing severe air pollution and the authorities have to be held responsible for its failure to curb it.

"Can you permit people to die like this due to pollution? Can you permit the country to go back by 100 years," observed a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.

"We have to make government responsible for this," the bench said and asked, "Why can't govt machinery stop stubble burning?

Coming down heavily on state governments, the top court said that if they don't bother about people, they have no right to be in power.

"You (states) have forgotten the concept of welfare government. They are not bothered about poor people, this is very unfortunate," said the bench, also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta.

It also questioned as to why the state governments cannot collect and purchase stubble from farmers.

"We expect more from the democratic government of the country to deal with the issue of stubble burning and curb pollution," the bench said, adding that "it is a question of life and death of crores of people. We have to make the government responsible for this".

Meanwhile, pollution levels dropped further due to clearer skies and moderate wind speed though weather experts feared a cloud cover at night and light drizzle could lead to deterioration of air quality. The government's air quality monitoring and forecasting service, SAFAR, said though Punjab recorded the season's highest farm fire count of 6,668 on Tuesday, its impact on Delhi's air quality will be negligible due to a change in the wind direction.

At 1.30 pm, the city's overall air quality index read 216, which falls in the poor category. At many places, the pollution levels dropped to a "moderate" category.

The levels of PM2.5 - tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter that can enter into the lungs and even the bloodstream - dropped to 107 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) in the Delhi-NCR region.

As schools reopened on Wednesday, day three of the Odd-Even scheme, parents asked whether the exemption for cars carrying students in uniform would apply when they are on their way back after dropping the children to school.

While cars with children in school uniform are allowed to ply irrespective of their registration numbers under the road rationing scheme, some parents termed it a "namesake" exemption.

With inputs from Nikita Jain

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