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Examine work from home for employees: SC to Centre, states on air pollution

New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday told the Centre and state governments to examine the feasibility of work from home for employees and also asked the states to ensure that stubble burning does not happen for 1-2 weeks.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and also comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant said: "At present, there is a good amount of stubble burning taking place. We tell the states that stubble burning does not happen for 1-2 weeks.." It further directed the Centre and states, "to examine for work from home for employees," in the meanwhile.

Mehta submitted that the Haryana government took some steps to implement work from home and they have also stopped trash burning.

The top court asked the chief secretaries of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana to be present for Tuesday's emergency meeting scheduled by the Centre. The bench noted that the construction, stubble burning, work from home, transport, etc., are the issues. "Let the committees meet and let them discuss these issues...need an action plan by tomorrow evening," said the bench.

The top court pointed out that there is no basis for hue and cry about stubble burning, as it merely contributes to only 4 per cent of air pollution in winters, and pointed out that, as per Centre's affidavit, major culprits of air pollution are transport, industries, and vehicular pollution.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, while detailing on initiatives taken by the Delhi government to curb air pollution, submitted, "We are fighting together, no politics in the fight against air pollution..."

The bench noted that "in fact now the cat is out of the bag, the farmers' stubble burning contributes to 4 per cent of the pollution as per the chart (in the Centre's affidavit), we are targeting something which is totally insignificant...".

The top court also sought an action plan from the Centre, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi by Tuesday regarding measures to curb air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The Chief Justice emphasized that since stubble burning is not reason, the authorities must focus on issues which majorly contribute towards air pollution.