‘You want to ban industries in Pakistan?’, Supreme Court asked UP counsel in air pollution case

NEW DELHI — Amid severe air pollution in Delhi, the Supreme Court has often witnessed either Centre blaming the Delhi government for not doing enough to curb pollution and vice versa. The Delhi government has also blamed stubble burning carried out by farmers in the neighbouring states. But, on Friday during the hearing, the Uttar Pradesh counsel, while opposing the closure of industries in UP, blamed the winds from Pakistan.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and also comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant, that if industries were to shut down in UP it would impact sugarcane and milk industries in the state. Kumar also elaborated on various aspects of sugarcane business and vehemently argued that closure will create a major issue.

Kumar said: “Closure of industries may affect sugarcane industries. UP is on down wind, air is mostly coming from Pakistan.”

The Chief Justice replied, “So you want to ban industries in Pakistan?”

Kumar said if sugar mills are closed then the farmers will suffer. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the government can approach the commission. The top court allowed the Uttar Pradesh government to raise the grievance before the commission for air quality management.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the petitioner, suggested that the government should look at a long-term solution to curb air pollution. He added that large tracts of land are available in neighbouring states, where solar panels could be installed for generating electricity. The bench said it already told the Centre to examine the aspect of renewable energy. Singh contended solar panels can replace power plants.

Concluding the hearing in the matter, the bench said: “For time being in view of particular measures by the government of India and notification dated December 2, we direct the government of India and GNCTD to implement those Measures. We’ll keep the matter pending and list it (the matter) next Friday.”

The top court was hearing a case by a 17-year-old Delhi student Aditya Dubey raising concerns about severe air pollution in Delhi.