“There is so much pollution and traffic congestion in Delhi,” said Justice Arun Mishra today, hearing a case on Delhi pollution on a day dense fog and the Republic Day parade rehearsal, along with poor air quality made travelling across the city a nightmare.
The judge said he was about to miss a swearing-in ceremony for two new judges because of traffic.
“Earlier I was attracted to live in Delhi, but now, no longer. There is so much pollution and traffic congestion. After retirement I won’t stay in Delhi. It has become a gas chamber,” said Justice Mishra.
Yesterday, the overall air quality in the national capital and adjoining areas turned ‘severe’ with toxic PM2.5 and PM10 being the major contributors. The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) – which measures the concentration of poisonous particulate matter – was recorded at 411, according to the Central Pollution Control Board or CPCB. A reading above 100 is considered unhealthy.
Since October, residents of Delhi, home to more than 20 million people, have struggled to breathe under a blanket of thick smog. The national capital is ranked among the world’s worst cities in air quality, after years of breakneck growth in auto sales and coal-fired power generation.
Environmentalists say the central and state government, while focusing on temporary responses, are side-stepping more effective, long-term measures that would hit at the sources of pollution and promote cleaner fuels.
Justice Arun Mishra also asked the Delhi government to sort out Rapid Rail Transport System connecting Delhi and Meerut within 10 days and inform the court on 1 February.
The Delhi government replied that it doesn’t have the money for the project.
“You can’t shirk your responsibility. This project is meant for the people of Delhi,” the court told the Delhi government sternly.
The top court also directed the Delhi government to finalise a parking policy for Delhi and get back on February 1, when the case comes up next.