NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said that Delhi has become worse than "Narak" (hell) in the wake of deteriorating air quality, mounting garbage and unfit drinking water, and demanded why the state administration should not be held accountable and made to pay compensation.
A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Deepak Gupta asked Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, who presented himself before the bench: "Are you serious about water and air pollution in Delhi... you have just 55 per cent capacity to handle waste, what about the remaining 45 per cent?"
As the Chief Secretary sought to explain that Delhi governance is an issue due to dual power centres, Justice Mishra retorted: "Do not blame others, and think you can go scot-free.
You are liable to compensate the people. How much money is being given for cleaning up the Yamuna River, and where it is going? What is the status of water in Delhi? We are taking suo motu cognizance of people's right to get pure drinking water."
The top court observed that life is not cheap in India anymore, and the payoff in Bhopal gas tragedy is nothing compared to what is given to victims in similar cases worldwide.
"What is the value of life, you assess? People are suffering from bronchial asthma, do you know how many cancer patients are in Delhi," the court said, adding the State government's top administrative officer has no right to be in his chair.
"Can you monetise the reduction in life span?" the court asked.
Emphasising that state authorities are busy in passing the buck, and in fact, playing the blame game on the issue of water and air pollution in Delhi, an angry Justice Mishra said:
"You are politicising the issue of pollution... why are governments are not sitting together, instead of blaming each other... everything cannot be done under the noose of this court."
The judges said that they were shocked to notice that measures to cut down pollution from stubble burning were nil and steps were only being taken to penalise the violators, despite specific court orders.
Pulling up the governments of Haryana and Punjab, the court said: "Why are people being forced to live in gas chambers? It is better to kill them all in one go... Get explosives in 15 bags at one go."
The apex court also directed the Central Pollution Control Board to file a report on the adverse impact of factories in and around Delhi on the environment.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)