SC pulls up Punjab for stubble burning, says 'We're not sure how you manage it, but...'
New Delhi, November 07: The Supreme Court issued a stern warning to the Punjab government on Tuesday regarding the issue of stubble burning in the state. The court expressed its frustration, emphasising that this matter should not become a constant political battle. It demanded that stubble burning must be stopped, acknowledging that the court may not know the exact method for achieving this, but it is the government's responsibility to find a solution immediately. The Air quality in Delhi-NCR region cannot become a political battle, the Supreme Court stressed that the choking air quality of the northern India region is responsible for the 'murder of people's health'.
— ANI (@ANI) November 7, 2023
In a significant move, the Supreme Court directed the states of Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan to put an immediate halt to stubble burning. The chief secretaries and director generals of police in these states were held responsible for overseeing the implementation of this court order.
Air pollution in Delhi-NCR: Supreme Court asks Punjab government to stop the stubble burning. Supreme Court observes that there can't be a political battle all the time.
“We want it (stubble burning) stopped. We don't know how you do it, it’s your job. But it must be stopped.… pic.twitter.com/VgMWOmBv5l — ANI (@ANI) November 7, 2023
The court also placed some responsibility on the Central government, suggesting that it should reconsider its support for the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy in Punjab. Instead, the court proposed that efforts should be made to encourage farmers to shift towards cultivating alternative crops like millets.
The urgency of this issue became evident as Punjab reported over 2,000 farm fires on the same day, while many areas in Haryana experienced air quality indices categorized as 'severe' and 'very poor.' This situation underlines the gravity of the problem and the need for immediate action.
The data from the Ludhiana-based Punjab Remote Sensing Centre revealed that there were a total of 19,463 stubble-burning incidents in Punjab from September 15 to November 6. This constituted 61 percent of the total incidents in the current season, and although it was 35 percent lower than the previous year, it is still a significant concern.
Haryana, too, faced air quality challenges, with several cities recording high AQI levels. In Punjab, Amritsar reported an AQI of 329, while Bathinda recorded 297, and Ludhiana had 283. In contrast, Union Territory Chandigarh, the shared capital of Punjab and Haryana, had a relatively better AQI of 149.
Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is known to be a major contributor to the severe air pollution levels witnessed in Delhi during October and November.
In addition to addressing stubble burning, the Supreme Court directed Rajasthan and other states to follow its earlier order related to the regulation of firecrackers during the festive season. The court instructed the Rajasthan government to take measures to minimize air pollution, especially during festivals, emphasizing that managing pollution is a collective responsibility and not solely the duty of the courts.
- With inputs from agencies