NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday took suo motu cognizance of the controversy over the supply of alleged unsafe drinking water in the national capital and asked the Delhi government and the Centre to come back with relevant data.

Hearing the matter over continued high levels of air pollution in the national capital, the apex court issued notice to all states and Union territories (UTs) in the country directing them to submit a report within six weeks stating how they are tackling the issues of garbage disposal, air pollution and water pollution.

A division bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta lashed out at the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi for the increase in air pollution despite the fact that the apex court had banned stubble burning and had said government authorities would be held liable in case of inaction. The bench questioned them as to what measures the states and Centre had taken to combat air pollution. It has given them six weeks to respond on why they should not be held liable and pay compensation for the pollution.

The bench termed stubble burning as an alarming problem and said not only the state machinery but farmers were also responsible for it. It said it has sympathy for the farmers but not at the cost of their actions creating air pollution.

Mishra, while addressing the Punjab chief secretary, said “because you are not able to implement measures to curb pollution does not mean that people in NCR should die and suffer from cancer".

“Delhi is worse than narak (hell)," said Mishra on the state of air pollution in Delhi. The top court also sought a report from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the states concerned on steps taken to check pollution in rivers, including Ganga and Yamuna.

The CPCB has also been directed to file a report on the adverse impact on the environment from factories in Delhi. The CPCB along with the Centre has been directed to form a high-level committee in three days and file a report in three weeks on how technologies can be utilized in the most effective way for a long-term solution to tackle the problem of rising pollution.

SC also slammed the Centre and the Delhi government for the “blame game" on water and air pollution in Delhi and directed them to submit a report within six weeks on steps taken by them to tackle pollution.

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