The Supreme Court has pulled up Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan governments over stubble burning, saying that Delhi cannot be made to go through severe air pollution year after year.
"What is the solution? Delhi can’t be made to go through this," the top court bench said.
The Supreme Court asked all the stakeholders in the matter to meet on Wednesday for a meeting. "“Eminent Secretary should call for a meeting tomorrow, whether physically or Zoom. All stakeholders will connect to ensure that we have a better picture and some redemtion by Friday," Justice SK Kaul of the bench said.
Saying that the air pollution issue in Delhi cannot be turned into a political debate, Justice Kaul pointed out to all counsels appearing for the states about how children in the national capital are going through health issues because of the pollution.
Punjab AG said that crop burning only happens for 20-50 days. To this, Justice Kaul said it is the "timing" of stubble burning and there is "no seriousness" attached to the issue. "We do not care how you do it... it must stop. Whether sometimes by forceful actions and sometimes by incentives," the top court remarked.
Justice Kaul told Punjab AG that the state needs to "stop the fire". "Your administration must to do. Your local SHO must be held responsible. From today onwards, they must start working on it," he said.
The bench also asked Delhi government about the measures taken to stop vehicles entering the national capital. Vehicular pollution is one of the major sources of pollution in the city.
The top court then asked the advocate appearing for the Centre that the states must be helped to "shift to an alternative crop (to paddy)" to avoid farm fires. "I don't know you get all the officers... we are on zero patience on this...," Justice Kaul said.
During the hearing, Amicus curiae (assisting the court) Aparajita Singh told the court that the smog tower installed in Delhi is non-functional. To this, the top court rebuked the Delhi government.
"It's stated that smog tower installed after earlier directios are not working. Upon query, it was found that some disciplinary action has been proposed against the officer (in charge). It's ludicrous, we want towers to be working," the Supreme Court remarked.
The top court also directed to ensure that solid waste is not burnt in open in Delhi as it typically happens during this season.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which rules in both Delhi and Punjab, has been in a tussle with the BJP over stubble burning. The AAP has claimed that farm fires have decreased since it came to power in Punjab, and has blamed the BJP for not being able to control pollution in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh ruled by them.
The BJP, meanwhile, has slammed AAP for its ban on firecrackers in Delhi and the odd-even rule to be implemented from November 13 to November 20. BJP's South Delhi MP Ramesh Bidhuri on Tuesday said that the scheme is an agenda by AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal against Sanatan Dharna.
In Punjab, 78 per cent of stubble burning cases this season took place in the past eight days. On Monday, as many as 2,060 cases of stubble burning were recorded in Punjab. Delhi's air quality, meanwhile, showed a slight improvement on Tuesday to the 'very poor' category as the overall air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 395. The city, however, remained covered in a blanket of thick, toxic haze.
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