The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Punjab and Haryana governments for the rise in stubble burning cases despite its order prohibiting it and said people living in neighbouring Delhi couldn’t be left to die due to air pollution.
An apex court bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said the life span of millions had shortened and people are “suffocating” due to pollution in Delhi-NCR. “Can you treat people like this and permit them to die due to pollution,” the bench asked.
Taking to task the Punjab Chief Secretary over the increase in stubble burning cases despite SC orders, the bench said, “Tell us why stubble burning increased after our order. Why are you not able to check stubble burning. Is it not a failure?”
“We will hold every machinery in the state responsible. You can’t let people die like this. Delhi is near suffocating. Because you aren’t able to implement measures, doesn’t mean people in Delhi-NCR should die and suffer from cancer,” the Supreme Court further said. Supreme Court said that the Haryana government had done “good job” earlier but not doing anything now.
“Why are people being forced to live in gas chambers? It is better to kill them all in one go, get explosives in 15 bags at one go. Why should people suffer all this?” Supreme Court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
Justice Arun Mishra remarked that the blame game over the pollution crisis is not serving any purpose of the people in the national capital. “People are laughing at our country that we can’t even control stubble burning. The blame game is not serving the people of Delhi. You people will play the blame game, not taking it (pollution) seriously,” he said.
While Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary told the Supreme Court that around 1,000 FIRs have been filed against stubble burning and a fine of around Rs 1 crore have been imposed in the state, the court asked him to go for positive actions rather than the coercive ones.
The court also lashed out at Delhi government saying that they should pay for putting people’s lives through such suffering. “Delhi is worse than hell. Life is not so cheap in India and you will have to pay. You have no right to be in chair. How many lakhs each person should be paid? How much do you value a person’s life?”
Supreme Court said it wanted the central and Delhi government to prepare a comprehensive plan within 10 days to install smoke towers on a permanent basis across the national capital to deal with air pollution.
Earlier this month, the court had asked the governments of Punjab, Haryana and UP to pay Rs 100 per quintal of crop — within seven days — as an incentive to paddy farmers who have not burnt stubble on their fields. The SC bench had also asked the states to provide machines that help deal with crop residue to “small and marginal” farmers free of cost, for now.
Justice Arun Mishra also said, “No farmer can be said to have the right to burn stubble because they don’t have the time before sowing the next crop to wait and turn it into manure… Maybe, it’s their compulsion. But they can’t create tort. It’s violation of Article 21 rights. They are telling others that they can die…So we have no sympathy for them.”
As per Punjab government data, a total of 51,302 farm fires were recorded till November 20. The number of farm fire incidents reached 52,154 till November 22, compared to 50,970 on the corresponding date last year.
Supreme court on impact of factories in Delhi
The Supreme court asked Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to file a report on adverse impact of the factories running in Delhi on its environment. CPCB was also asked to file details on the nature of factories operating in the capital.
Supreme Court on water pollution
The Supreme Court Monday said it will take suo motu cognisance of the water pollution issue in Delhi to verify whether the drinking water is safe or not for the people and asked Centre and the Delhi government to return with all the relevant statistics.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI)