A Bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant has passed an interim order on Wednesday, renstating the ban on construction activities in the National Capital Region (NCR) while directing the states to provide pay wages notified under the Minimum Wages Act during the ban period, from the funds collected as labour cess.
The Bench has clarified that the ban will not include non-polluting activities relating to construction such as plumbing work, interior decoration, electrical work and carpentry, which are allowed to be continued.
The Bench has also directed the Commission for Air Quality Management in the NCR and Adjoining Areas to "commission a scientific study of air quality based on available data of previous years bearing upon recorded levels of air pollution".
The order has been passed in a Writ Petition filed by Aditya Dubey seeking urgent steps to improve the air quality of Delhi-NCR.
Senior Advoate Mr. Vikas Singh appeared for the Petitioner while Mr. Tushar Mehta, SG and Ms. Aishwarya Bhati, ASG for the Union and Senior Advocates Mr. D.S. Patwalia, Dr. A.M. Singhvi, Mr. Rahul Mehra, Mr. Rajiv Raizada and others appeared for the other Respondents
"We direct that instead of waiting for the air quality to deteriorate before initiating action under the graded response plan, necessary measures must be put into place in anticipation of a deterioration of air quality. For this purpose, it is necessary for the commission to engage expert agencies with domain knowledge in meteorological data and statistical modelling," the Bench ordered.
The centre, through the Solicitor General, had informed that Court that in view of the improvement in Delhi's air quality, the ban on construction activities had been lifted with effect from 22nd November. The Bench has reversed this decision.
The directions issued the Bench are as follows:-
"In the meantime, as an interim measure and until further orders, we re-impose the ban on the construction activities in the NCR subject to the following two conditions:-
(i) Non-polluting activities relating to construction such as the plumbing work, interior decoration, electrical work and carpentry are allowed to be continued;
(ii) The States shall use the funds which have been collected as labour cess for the welfare of construction workers to provide them subsistence for the period during which construction activities are prohibited and pay wages notified under the Minimum Wages Act for the respective categories of workers.
For further consideration, list the matter on 29.11.2021. In the meantime, the Central Government, Delhi-NCR States and the Commission are directed to take appropriate steps to deal with the situation as directed by this Court from time to time".