The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday pulled up authorities from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi for failing to control crop stubble burning in their states, which has led to the catastrophic pollution levels in New Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR).
“Can we survive in this atmosphere? This is not the way we can survive. Delhi is choking every year and we are not able to do anything. Question is that every year this is happening. It cannot be done in a civilised country,” a two-judge Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said.
The SC said instances of crop stubble burning cannot go unabated every year. “Why there should be unabated crop burning every year? Every year there is hue and cry. All the states know this and yet they are not tackling this issue,” the Bench said. The SC has also asked chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, and UP to be present in the court on November 6, when it will next hear the case.
Directing the states neighbouring Delhi to immediately stop crop stubble burning, the SC put a stop to all construction and demolition activities as well as garbage and waste burning in Delhi-NCR until further orders.
A road map to prevent such a situation must be prepared by the Centre and the states in three weeks, the SC said.
Passing a slew of other directions to prevent rise in air pollution levels, it imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on anyone carrying out construction and demolition activity in Delhi-NCR, and a fine of Rs 5,000 on offenders involved in garbage or waste burning. The Bench said it had “no sympathy for farmers indulging in it (stubble burning) as they are putting lives of others at risk”.
The SC questioned the validity of Delhi government’s odd-even scheme, and asked it to submit by Friday the data to support its claim that pollution levels came down when the scheme was in place.
The states have been asked to ensure that there is no power-cut in Delhi-NCR so that people do not have to resort to using diesel-run generator sets for power backup.