The alarming pollution level is literally ‘capital punishment’ for Delhiites who are being robbed of three years of their lives due to it, Delhi High Court said on Thursday, holding government’s inaction and stubble burning in Punjab as being responsible for the “genocide”.
“It is killing us,” a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar said, adding that the grave situation was leading to the “decimation” of more than 60 million life years or one million deaths.
It also asked whether votes were more important than the lives of those who vote.
“It is literally capital punishment as the capital is being punished and that too for no offence. People are being killed in the capital. You cannot kill Delhi,” the high court said, terming reduction in life expectancy due to pollution and government inaction over it as “genocide” and “murder”.
Referring to a WHO study on the effects of air pollution published in a news article, the court said pollutants in the air in several cities of India, especially Delhi, “exceeds the standards”, as 13 out of the world’s 20 most polluted cities were in our country.
The bench also noted that Delhi had the highest number of people suffering from respiratory ailments and also deaths due to it.
It said the government was duty bound to remove the threat of air pollution, but “despite repeated direction” and public opinion, the “governments responsible have not acted in the manner they should have”.
“As per the report, air pollution in a city like Delhi deducts three years from your life expectancy. Delhi has a population of over 20 million. So 60 million life years are being robbed from people of Delhi.
“With an average life expectancy of 60 years, it would mean that air pollution as its exists in Delhi takes one million lives. If this is not murder, what is? This is genocide. Government inaction is the culprit for shortening of life,” the court said.
Referring to satellite images submitted by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) in connection with stubble burning in northern India, the court said level of pollutants in the air peaked first week of November and biomass burning in Punjab was the “main culprit”.
“Unfortunately, state of Punjab is in denial mode and contests allegations that they are responsible for air pollution in Delhi. Punjab has not taken action as have the states of Haryana and Rajasthan, despite our clear warning earlier,” the court said.