OBSERVING THAT studies have shown that life expectancy of people living in highly polluted areas “reduces by almost three years”, Delhi High Court on Thursday said the “inaction” by government authorities to curb pollution in Delhi was “like genocide”.
A bench of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ashutosh Kumar made scathing remarks against the Punjab government for failing to end the practice of stubble burning, noting that “satellite images produced by Delhi Pollution Control Committee have shown that crop burning in Punjab is the main culprit for spike in pollution”.
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The counsel for the Punjab government, however, told the court that small farmers in the state were reeling under massive debt and the state was required to spend over Rs 9,300 crore as subsidy to provide equipment for straw management to prevent stubble burning. The lawyer also argued that there is no evidence that the crop burning in Punjab was responsible for the pollution spike in the NCR.
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Noting that the Punjab government was “warned” by the HC, NGT and the SC about the dangers of stubble burning, the bench said, “What is distressing is that we warned you, we informed you… this is dereliction of duty.”
Targeting Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh governments as well as the Centre, the bench said the authorities were “more interested in the ballot, not the humans behind the ballot”.
The next hearing on the matter will be on November 18.