As New Delhi suffers from the worst smog it has seen in 17 years, the people in the national capital can actually take action against the state and central government for denying them a basic right.
Environmental activist MC Mehta told News18 that the citizens could exercise the basic right to life given to them by the Constitution. "Patients in Delhi hospitals suffering from various environment-related ailments should come out and file a petition in the Supreme Court claiming inhaling such polluted air violates their fundamental right to life as enshrined in our Constitution," he was quoted as saying in the report.
In the 1985 judgment in 'Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra vs State of Uttar Pradesh', a court had held that "air and water are the most indispensable gifts of nature for preservation of life."
Mehta further said in the report that the state and central governments were responsible for the crisis and that it was high time the pollution financiers in Delhi were punished. He also talked about the 'polluter pays' principle and said that agencies providing loans for vehicles or governments which did not pay attention to the road-carrying of Delhi.
Nearly 17,000 schools running under the three municipal corporations of Delhi were closed on Saturday in view of the heavy smog.
"All municipal schools under the three corporations were closed due to the heavy smog and pollution. The order for closure is only for today as of now. As per the situation, we may decide to close them later as well," Leader of Opposition in SDMC, Subhash Arya had said.
About 10 lakh students are enrolled in the schools administered by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
The decision was taken on Friday at a meeting of civic officials held in the wake of severe pollution Delhiites are reeling under.
Recently, the National Green Tribunal had pulled up the Centre and AAP government for "shifting blame" and not taking steps to tackle the alarming air pollution level in Delhi, saying what a "terrible" future are we giving to our children.
The national capital was facing the worst smog in 17 years, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had said on Thursday, while asking the Delhi government to issue health alerts and convey that children should stay indoors as there was a state of health emergency due to peaking air pollution.
Peak level of respirable pollutants PM 2.5 and PM 10 had also violated the safe limits by over 15 times at places like RK Puram. The prescribed standard of PM 2.5 is 60 micrograms per cubic metre, but it touched 955 in real-time during early morning hours.
Admitting that the enforcement of rules for tackling air pollution was "weak", the Environment Ministry on Friday had asked states to "strictly" implement a host of measures, including checking spread of fly ash from Delhi's Badarpur plant and shutting down of old brick kilns.
With inputs from PTI