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The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it will not close the air pollution case just yet and give final orders, due to the seriousness of the issue it will continue to hear on this matter and posted the case for the next hearing on November 29. The apex court asked the centre to continue the measures to control air pollution levels for the next two-three days.

The Supreme Court suggested the centre and Commission for Air Quality Management to rely upon a statistical-based model on wind patterns to take advance measures to curb air pollution in Delhi-NCR before the situation deteriorates.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices DY Chandrachud, and Surya Kant told the centre, "when the weather becomes severe then we take measures. These measures have to be taken in anticipation to stop pollution and this anticipation has to be based on a statistical model. This is the National Capital; imagine the signal we are sending to the world. You can stop these activities in the anticipation itself."

Senior advocate Vikas Singh appearing for petitioner tells Supreme Court that as per a media report this year due to polls in Punjab fines not being imposed to please farmers. To this, the apex court said that it isn't concerned with this issue and it can't micromanage such things.

The apex court has asked Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments about any study to show how much stubble has been removed from these states and what emission control methods have been adopted.

Supreme Court will hear the case next on November 29 and said if the pollution level becomes 100, then some restrictions can be lifted. 

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana suggested that, “on the issue of stubble burning, that as a government lawyer and we judges are discussing this issue, what is the bureaucracy doing? They can go on field talk to farmers, involve scientists and take a decision."

The Supreme Court had earlier observed that TV debates are causing more air pollution than anything else and everybody has their own agenda while hearing cases relating to increasing air pollution in Delhi-NCR. It said, "you want to use some issue, make us observe and then make it controversial and then only blame game will remain. Debates on TV are creating more pollution than everyone else. Everybody has their own agenda. They don't understand anything."

The observation of the Bench came as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Centre raised the issue over television debates which claimed that he had misled the apex court on the contribution of stubble burning to air pollution.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi representing the Delhi government told the Bench that said that the Centre's figures on stubble burning contribution say that it varies from 0 to 58 per cent.

"We don't want to penalise farmers. We have requested States to persuade the farmers to not burn stubble. Why are you, again and again, raising this," the apex court told Singhvi.

The Centre has proposed a slew of measures including a ban on entry of all trucks in Delhi except vehicles carrying essential goods, shutting down of schools and 50 per cent attendance in offices of GNCTD to reduce air pollution.

During the hearing, the Bench had said there has to be some responsibility, not everything can be done through a judicial order.

The Bench had said that the direction of the Commission for air quality management for Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas have to be complied with.

The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi today is at 280 with PM concentration of 2.5.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) stated that stubble burning is not the reason for the rise in pollution levels in Delhi.

Dr Prabhjot Kaur Sidhu, the Principal Scientist at PAU, said, "we have analysed data from the last four years, from October 1 to 16. During this period, due to the withdrawal of monsoon, the temperature starts falling and the wind speed is at 2km/hour or below. For any pollutants to move from one region to another, the wind speed needs to be at 5 km/hour."

She further said, "according to the data, only four times - in 2019 and 2020-- when the wind speed was at 5km/hour or above. During this time, the wind was towards the southern direction and not towards Delhi. So, nobody can claim that the rise in pollution level is due to stubble burning."

(With inputs from agencies)

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