7 Nov 2023

Delhi Air Pollution: What action states are taking to stop stubble burning, asks Supreme Court

New Delhi: Amidst a surge in pollution levels in Delhi-NCR, the Supreme Court issued a directive on Tuesday, instructing the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan to immediately cease crop residue burning, emphasizing that it cannot allow people to suffer and potentially die due to pollution.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, who presided over the bench alongside Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, expressed grave concern, stating, "I am sorry, this is complete murder of the health of people, there is no other phrase I have."

The court took a strong stance against the states attempting to shift blame to one another for the pollution, emphasizing that there cannot always be a political battle.

The Supreme Court's remarks followed the Delhi government's decision to implement an odd-even traffic restriction plan from November 13, a day after Diwali, when pollution levels are expected to worsen.

During a hearing related to the severe air pollution in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR), the bench raised issues such as crop residue burning, vehicular pollution, and open waste burning.

Expressing concern over the ongoing stubble burning after the paddy harvest, the bench pointed out, "The concern is this... these farm fires are not stopping. What action the states are taking to stop the stubble burning?"

The court emphasized, "Delhi cannot be made to go through this year after year."

The counsel representing Punjab claimed that incidents of crop residue burning had decreased by 40 percent since the previous year, but the bench insisted on a comprehensive solution, saying, "We want to stop all this. We don't care how you do it. It is your business how to do it. It must stop."

The Supreme Court stressed that they cannot allow people to suffer and potentially die due to pollution, referring to the health issues faced by Delhi residents each year.

The court also directed the Delhi government to ensure that municipal solid waste is not burned in the open.

"We direct the state government of Punjab and for that matter, all other states adjacent to Delhi, which is Haryana, Rajasthan, and UP, to ensure that crop burning is stopped forthwith," the court said.

The court acknowledged that crop residue burning was not the sole cause of pollution but highlighted its significance during this season.

The matter was scheduled for further hearing on Friday.

On Tuesday morning, pollution levels in Delhi were categorized as "very poor" after five consecutive days of severe air quality. The concentration of PM 2.5, fine particulate matter that can deeply affect the respiratory system and cause health issues, exceeded government-prescribed safe limits by seven to eight times in the capital, surpassing the WHO's recommended limit by 30 to 40 times.

Hazardous air quality

Several cities in Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh also reported hazardous air quality. Ghaziabad recorded an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 338, Gurugram 364, Noida 348, Greater Noida 439, and Faridabad 382.

Noting the persistence of air pollution in the national capital despite remedial measures by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), the Supreme Court, on October 31, instructed the governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan to submit affidavits detailing the measures they have taken to control pollution.

No comments:

Post a Comment