The Supreme Court on Wednesday reimposed a ban on construction activities in the Delhi NCR region with a view to controlling the rising levels of air toxicity.
The ban on construction had been imposed by the centre last week and had been lifted with effect from November 22 in light of improving the air quality index in the national capital. However, after the hearing on the case concerning the toxic air in Delhi, the top court yesterday passed a detailed order and directed for the ban on construction activities to remain in force until further orders.
The bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana with Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant was also tasked with taking into account the interests of the construction workers and labourers who were left with no source of income owing to this ban. Workers’ associations had moved pleas before the court seeking resumption of the construction work solely in order to be able to earn the daily wages.
The apex court had suggested during the hearing that the state governments use the “thousands of crores” of labour cess collected towards paying minimum wages to workers left without work owing to the ban. This observation finds a place in the court’s detailed order, which was released in the public domain later.
“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,” the Supreme Court’s order passed on Wednesday says.
Non-polluting construction-related activities such as plumbing, carpentry etc stand permitted, the court has said.The Supreme Court will continue to monitor the air pollution situation in Delhi NCR, the bench had observed during the hearing and will hold the next hearing on Nov 29. In the meantime, the central government as well as the NCR states and the commission set up for air quality management in this region have been directed by the court to take appropriate measures from time to time to control worsening air quality.