New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday passed an order for partially lifting the complete ban on construction activity in Delhi-NCR region. The construction is now allowed between stipulated time period of 6am to 6pm.

The apex court bench comprising Justice Arun Mishta and Deepak Gupta passed this order after going through the report submitted by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which stated that between 6pm to 6am construction should not be allowed. The board also stated that the pollution level have decreased in the capital and is now in the 'poor' category as declared 'severe' earlier.

The court was also informed that the stubble burning have reduced significantly and the court then directed the governments of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punja to file a report to this affect. The court also directed for a report to be filed on the steps being taken by respective state governments to reduce and tackle the problems of farmers for stubble burning. The report has to be filed by 11 December.

Additional Solicitor General A.N.S. Nadkarni, appearing for Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), apprised the division bench that the Central Government has constituted a high-level committee comprising of the Principal Secretary, officials of departments of environment, Delhi government and IIT experts to look into the pollution management technology to control the pollution menace. The ASG also informed the bench that installation of smog towers is the responsibility of the state government and not Centre, as the installation would be in accordance with the need of each state. The committee shall file a report by 13 December on its research and findings with respect to on the feasibility of the installation of smog towers and use of other specific technology to tackle pollution problem.

The next date of hearing of the case is 16 December.

On 25 November, the top court had passed an order directing the Delhi government, Central Pollution Control Department and Central Government to sit together and finalize an action plan within 10 days for setting up air purifying/smog towers in different parts of Delhi NCR. Directions were also issued to Centre to formulate a high-level committee to work out modalities regarding other technologies to help combat pollution, and said that a report be filed before it within three weeks on this issue.

Every winter, the national capital region is enveloped by a thick shroud of poisonous smog, forcing the Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority’ (EPCA) to declare a public health emergency and the Delhi government to order schools shut -— something that has become an annual practice.

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