Put Out Stubble Fires, Supreme Court Tells Punjab, Haryana: 10 Points

Air Pollution: The two-judge bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta also held the state governments responsible for the situation.

Supreme Court is hearing a petition from pollution control body on stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.

Highlights

  • Centre and state must curb stubble burning, top court said
  • State governments only "interested in electioneering": top court
  • Delhi grilled over odd-even road rationing scheme
New Delhi: Punjab and Haryana have to extinguish fire from stubbles in agricultural fields and submit a report by Wednesday, the Supreme Court said on Monday as pollution levels across north India, including Delhi, peaked. "If stubble burning takes place, the entire administration -- from the Chief Secretary to the gram pradhan will be responsible", the court said, ordering a slew of measures to bring the pollution in check. The court also sought a road-map from the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana to stop pollution on long-term. "People are dying and it can't happen in a civilised country... Every time we are passing orders for the current issue. We have to pass orders for long term measures," the court said. The top court has summoned chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.

Here are the top 10 points on the Supreme Court hearing:

  1. "Stubble burning must stop. Both Centre and the state must do this. People are dying. The sad thing is everyone in this country is interested in gimmicks," the court said while hearing a petition from the pollution control body Environment Pollution Control Authority or EPCA on stubble burning in neighbouring states like Punjab and Haryana.

  2. The state machinery is not acting to control pollution, the court said. "The Centre should do... Delhi must do. It can't go on like this," the court said, adding, "The time has come to fix responsibility for the situation that is destroying the Right to Life of citizens in gross violation of Article 21... Everybody has to be answerable -- from the state to gram panchayats".

  3. The two-judge bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta  also held the state governments responsible for the situation. "They are interested in electioneering... they are answerable...  we will not tolerate this," they said.

  4. The court said wide publicity has to be given to its orders on pollution through radio, television and print media, so panchayats are aware of their responsibilities.

  5. Delhi was grilled over its odd-even road rationing scheme which came into force on Monday. "What are you achieving by odd and even? Are you preventing running of taxis? Have you any figure on impact of odd and even?" the court asked.

  6. The Centre said four districts in Punjab contribute to 44 per cent of stubble burning and in Delhi, construction and demolition are major sources of pollution.

  7. The court ordered  a stop to construction and demolition work across Delhi and tasked municipal authorities with ensuring that there is no violation. A fine of Rs 1 lakh was ordered in cases of violation.

  8. The entry of diesel vehicles and garbage burning were also banned in the national capital. To prevent road dust, the court ordered that water be sprinkled on roads and traffic be planned, so any congestion is taken care of by the Delhi Traffic Police.

  9. Pollution in Delhi and its neighbouring areas have been spiralling since Diwali. On Sunday, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the national capital's 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) stood at 494 -- the highest since November 6, 2016, when it was 497.

  10. Last week, pollution in the National Capital Region was declared a public health emergency by the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority after pollution levels entered the "emergency" category for the first time since January.



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