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New Delhi, The Delhi High Court Monday said it cannot close its eyes to the fact that the air quality in the national capital was oscillating between ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’. The high court said, for the last few weeks, the air quality was ‘severe’ and now it has marginally improved to ‘very poor’ category which is because of generous winds and not due to any plantation of trees.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad asked senior advocate Kailash Vasdev, who has been assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the air pollution matter, to file within four weeks a report on the issue along with suggestions to deal with deforestation and measures for tree plantation in the city.

“For the last few weeks, we have been oscillating between ‘severe’ and ‘very poor’ categories of air quality… we can’t close our eyes to the fact,” Justice Prasad said.

He said, “At the end of the day, we all live in Delhi. Can we close our eyes when we see so much construction specially in forest areas in violation of rules… Rampant construction has come up. Obviously, it has not come up overnight. People responsible for this definitely know about it. If no land is left in Delhi, where will you do the plantation?”

The judge’s remarks came after the counsel representing the ‘Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas’ submitted it has come up with a graded plan to deal with pollution which was put in place this winter season as well when several activities were banned to control pollution levels.

During the hearing, the amicus informed the court about rampant deforestation in Delhi and the status of forests here where unauthorised construction has been going on.

He added the only way to deal with increasing deforestation is to stop illegal constructions.

The commission, in its ‘Policy to curb air pollution in the NCR’ stated that in 2021-22, a total of 28,81,145 saplings were planted in Delhi and the target for 2022-23 is to plant 31,89,191 more.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on February 1, 2023.

The high court was hearing a batch of PILs on the problem of poor ambient air quality in Delhi, an issue which it has taken up on its own. PTI SKV SKV SK

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