The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the government that it cannot micromanage the actions taken by state governments to stop stubble burning, and emphasized that the government should use statistical models and adopt scientific methods to curb air pollution in Delhi.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant said the court is very concerned about the critical levels of air pollution in Delhi and pointed out that the air quality index continues to be over 300, which is hazardous.
"We are not going to close this matter. We will continue the matter...almost every day or alternate day," said the bench, making clear its intention that the court wants to see effective implementation of the steps to combat the menace of air pollution.
The bench said it cannot micromanage states and tell them what to do and what should not be done.
Justice Chandrachud said this is a national capital and severe air pollution levels do not send good signals across the globe.
He told the Centre not to concentrate on ad-hoc arrangements -- street cleaning through machines, anti- smog guns, dust management, etc., -- rather the air quality commission should conduct some scientific study to reduce air pollution.
Justice Chandrachud emphasized that the authorities should anticipate that the air quality will deteriorate in the future and then develop measures accordingly. He added that the statistical models should be examined to identify the major factors for air pollution and then act on them.
"You need to anticipate the weather will become bad...that anticipation has to be based on statistical models for Delhi," said Justice Chandrachud.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, elaborated on the graded response adopted by the authorities as air quality deteriorates.
Justice Chandrachud suggested seasonal modelling for air pollution for example -- from January to March, July to September, and November to January. "You have to have models for different seasons for Delhi...look at the data in the last 5 years," he added.
Pointing at 381 AQI in Delhi, the bench told the Centre to take steps for 2-3 days to curb air pollution and scheduled the matter for further hearing on Monday.
The top court is hearing a petition by a minor Aditya Dubey seeking action against stubble burning, which chokes Delhi every year.