Supreme Court notices ‘slight’ improvement in air quality, permits panel to decide on easing restrictions

Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh governments will have to file consent affidavits on the issue related to payment of money to construction workers.

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On Friday, the Supreme Court noticed ‘slight’ improvement in air pollution level in Delhi-NCR and permitted the commission on air quality management to take a decision on many representations seeking easing of restrictions, like lockdown on construction activities, within a week.

A special bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant asked Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to obey its earlier order by which it had asked the National Capital Region states to pay minimum wages to construction workers from the tax, collected by them from real estate firms, as their jobs was hit due to the shutdown.

Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh governments will have to file consent affidavits on the issue related to payment of money to construction workers, it said.

“We order the Commission (the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas) to observe requests of various industries & organizations about relaxation of conditions forced by dignity of our orders or otherwise as per their circulars. We expect the commission will look into this in a week’s time,” the bench said.

The bench decided to dispose of several intervention pleas including those filed by builders’ body, sugar, rice and paper mills against certain restrictions forced by the commission and others including the top court and asked the panel to decide these issues.

The bench, at the outset, said that now there is “slight improvement in the quality of air” and the commission may be allowed to decide the issues pertaining to restrictions.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh said that now things have gotten better since the crucial period is over and sought vacation of an earlier order by which the ban on construction activities was re-imposed.

“We will not entertain these intervention applications. All these applications will be considered by the commission (air quality) and in consultation with the states, the grant of relaxations will be considered,” the bench said.

Ban on entry of trucks, excluding those carrying essential goods and those running on cleaner fuel, will continue, it said.

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