The Supreme Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Punjab and Delhi governments as continued to hear a clutch of petitions about the toxic air that chokes the national capital every winter. The apex court said that this is the most polluted November in six years.
A bench of Justices SK Kaul and S Dhulia ordered Punjab and Delhi, both ruled by the Aam Aadmi Party, to take action against the burning of agricultural waste, which adds significantly to Delhi’s AQI crisis.
“This is the most polluted November in six years… the problem is known (and) it is your job to control it,” the court told the two AAP states, and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh that is ruled by the BJP.
The top court also scolded the Delhi government over delayed funding of the Delhi-Meerut RRTS (regional rapid transport system). It ordered funds be transferred from the AAP’s spending on ads.
“Why has [Delhi government] not complied with our order? I told you the other day. I’ll stay your advertising budget. We don’t have any other way. You can’t take us for granted…,” Justice Kaul said.
The AAP government on Tuesday said it would make budgetary allocations towards the RRTS project. In response, the apex court told the Delhi government’s counsel it was “constrained to direct the funds allocated for advertisement purposes to be transferred to the project in question”, reported Live Law.
In July, the court reprimanded the Delhi government after it said it could not contribute to a rail network that will connect the city to neighbouring states and is expected to reduce vehicular traffic.
The government told the court that it was facing scarcity of funds due to the BJP-led Central government’s termination of the goods and service tax compensation scheme in June 2022.
“The sudden cessation of GST compensation has severely impacted the financial resources of the state government. This has led to a substantial reduction in the availability of funds,” the AAP government had said.
The court, however, pointed out that the government had spent Rs 1100 crore over the past three financial years on advertisement.
“If Rs 1,100 crore can be used for advertisement in the last three financial years, certainly money can be paid for the infrastructure project,” the court had said.
The priority section of the RRTS corridor was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.