Air pollution problem 'very serious', urgent steps needed: Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday warned that the problem of air pollution was very serious and solutions need to be found urgently, rather than in years.

"This pollution problem is very serious. If you talk for years for a solution, then it is a problem," a bench of Justices MB Lokur and PC Pant said, adding that some of the victims of air pollution are due to inefficient systems and non-implementation of norms.

The observation came after amicus curiae and senior advocate Harish Salve said there was a need to ensure 100 per cent compliance of Pollution Under Certificate (PUC) and linking them with the insurance of vehicles done every year.

"The year period is too far. Insurance of vehicle is done annually. We need to find solutions fast," the bench said and asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Centre, to specify the number of PUC centres in Delhi.

Kumar said there were 962 such centres in Delhi with each of them inspecting around 5000 vehicles every three months.

He said show cause notices have also been issued to some 174 for irregularities, licences of 14 have been cancelled, licences of 75 have been suspended and warning notices issued to 78 such centres.

The bench asked the Centre to furnish a status report regarding show cause notices issued to PUC centres and directed the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) to inspect all 962 PUC centers and submit the report about their functioning.

The Centre informed the court that consultations among all stakeholders is being done regarding banning of petcoke and furnace oil as industrial fuel in Delhi-NCR region.The SG said reports have been sought from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), National Physical Laboratory, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) and industrial houses with regard to banning of the fuel.

"Report has been sought from various stakeholders and meeting among them is scheduled Wednesday on the issue of banning of petcoke and furnace oil. We need some deliberations among them as industries which are reliant on such fuels needs to adopt some alternatives and government

 has to issue notification in this regard," Kumar said.The apex court asked the Centre to file the status report with regard to banning of petcoke and furnace oil on the next date of hearing on February 6.