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Stop farm fires, take long term measures, Supreme Court on air pollution in Delhi

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      11 November, 2023 11:03 AM      0 Comments
Stop farm fires take long term measures Supreme Court on air pollution in Delhi

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre and States to take long term measures to improve air quality in the Delhi NCR, emphasising the need to stop farm fires and saying it cannot allow people to suffer from pollution.

A three-judge bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said paddy crop must be replaced as a major crop in Punjab.

Having noted overnight rains in the capital and surrounding areas, which improved the air quality situation, the bench said, God may have heard the prayers of people and intervened, no thanks to the government.

The bench, also comprising Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, told Attorney General R Venkataramani and counsel, representing various state governments, that government officials are meeting but nothing happening on the ground level to address air pollution in the capital

"Why things only move when the court intervenes," the bench wondered.

With regard to the overnight rain in Delhi and surrounding areas, the bench said, The people have to pray only, sometimes wind comes and helps, and sometimes rains."

During the hearing, the bench also asked whether the Centre is ready to bear 50% cost of stubble clearing machines.

The court said that registering FIR for farm fires is not the solution and the approach should be financial relief which included some incentive.  

The bench once again emphasised on phasing out paddy from Punjab gradually, while pointing out that the water table in Punjab is going down.

The bench suggested that anybody who is involved in farm fire should not get MSP next year.

"Something like this has to be done as a curative measure. Everybodys children suffer there has to be some incentive.or attach their properties for one year, the bench said.

The court said it would leave it open to governments -- on having a carrot and stick approach --  otherwise they will say the apex court ordered attachment.

"We want farm fires stopped, we want the air quality to go up, we want you to take long term measures. How to have this rice replaced by something else," the bench said.

The bench told the AG, If the governments want it, Centre or state, it will happen. If you are lackadaisical about it, it wont happen.

The AG said it is not only the Union government but all state governments.

"So all governments are responsible. We are only interested in seeing it occurs..if it does not occur then the only option will be to have your chief secretaries here, concerned secretaries here (in the court). Keep them here till they find a solution. We dont want to do that. I am sure they can do their work betterPlease find a solution, the bench said.

Upon a counsel, highlighting the whole of Punjab is red due to farm fires, the bench told Advocate General of Punjab Gurminder Singh implementation of restraint of fire is something which is not being done by the Punjab government.

Singh said that the task is being taken on war footing and the state is taking all measures against farm fires and policemen are responsible through the SHO and they are extinguishing fire wherever detected.

The court fixed the matter related to the pending plea by environmentalist M C Mehta, on November 21.

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