NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court ordered authorities to close workplaces in the capital and surrounding areas on Monday, enabling millions of people to work from home as officials look for measures to decrease harmful air pollution that has forced schools to close.
It took action after municipal officials in New Delhi, which has been fighting a hazardous cloud since early November, declared an emergency on Saturday, ordering the shutdown of schools and construction activities for four days.
“For the time being, we instruct the centre and states of the national capital area to enforce work from home,” said Chief Justice NV Ramana, who is leading a panel of three justices debating a petition filed by a city resident.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers ignited agricultural waste fires in the neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh in order to clear fields for a fresh planting season, according to the court.
Justice Surya Kant stated, “We demand action on the matter.” The court did not set a timetable for authorities to take action, but it will take up the pollution matter again on Wednesday.
Despite spending billions of rupees over the last four years, India’s attempts to curb agricultural waste burning, a significant source of air pollution during the winter, have had little effect. find out more
On Monday, Delhi’s air quality index was 343 out of 500, indicating “extremely bad” conditions that can induce respiratory sickness with extended exposure.
Late last week, the capital was hit by terrible weather, with temperatures plummeting and the index reaching 499.
The Supreme Court further ordered that non-essential vehicle traffic be halted, industrial pollutants be reduced, and dust be limited.
Coal-fired facilities outside the city, as well as open waste burning, contribute to Delhi’s poor air quality, which is frequently named as the world’s most polluted capital.