Just few days ahead of Diwali last month, the Punjab and Haryana High Court division bench comprising Justices Ajay Kumar Mittal and Amit Rawal had taken a preemptive measure to prevent further deterioration of air quality in the region, including the Tricity, and restricted the bursting of fireworks on the Diwali day between 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
The suo moto cognisance had come on the heels of the Supreme Court order prohibiting the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the NCR region. The suo moto PIL in the High Court is restricted to Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. “There has been a haze over the city for past two days. The air quality is too bad,” the bench had observed on October 12 while expressing concern over the rising pollution level in the Tricity and the region.
The bench had sought information on firecracker sale in the city and later not only restricted the bursting of the crackers but also put limits on the number of sellers in the region.
Concerned over the pollution level in the city, the division bench has already observed that it would like to adjudicate the issue in advance for the next year’s festivals as well as on the use of firecrackers. The same order, putting restrictions on the bursting of firecrackers, on Diwali was extended to Gurpurab too.
However, the suo moto PIL is not the only case pending in the High Court related to pollution in the region. A special division bench of Justices Surya Kant and Ajay Tiwari on November 3 in a case related to road safety directed the Punjab and Haryana governments and the UT Administration to take immediate steps to ensure commuters’ safety during the foggy conditions.
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The issue of stubble burning, which is said to be the main reason behind the increase in air pollution, is also being heard by a single bench of the High Court, which on October 25 asked the Punjab government that under which provisions of the law the farmers were being charged for the stubble burning. The Bharti Kissan Union in the case is seeking compensation for restraining the farmers from burning stubble in their fields.