The National Capital Region is choking! One of the primary reasons is crop stubble burning in and around Delhi NCR more particularly Haryana, Punjab, U.P.
Farmers in these States due to poverty have taken to burning crop stubble in order to get rid of the crop residue of non-basmati rice that is there in the fields.
On Wednesday 13th November, 2019 a Special Bench of the Supreme Court of India consisting of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta passed an interim Order after hearing the parties for 2 hours on the issue of severe air pollution that has engulfed the Delhi-NCR.
The Court observed that the machines that are used for getting rid of crops stubble cannot be afforded by small time farmers. It therefore directed that such machines should be provided by the State Governments of Haryana Punjab and U.P to small and marginal farmers to deal with the issue of crop stubble. The Court was of the view that punishing such farmers cannot be an ultimate solution and asked the Government to provide such poor farmers basic facilities and amenities. The Court further held “farmers are to be equipped; not punished”. The Court further directed the Central Government to prepare a scheme to protect the interests of small and marginal farmers within 3 months and stated that the said scheme should be applied across the country. The Courts also directed the adjoining States to pay incentives to their farmers from State Funds.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India came down very heavily on the Chief Secretaries of Haryana, Punjab and U.P. for their failure to stop farmers from stubble burning. The Court further held that these Governments failed to make advance plans to handle the pollution and held several Government authorities liable for inaction.
The Court headed by Justice Mishra questioned the Government authorities stating “can you permit people to die like this? What is the advantage of having all these developments in the country? This is a failure of machinery and scientific brain of the country”. In fact Justice Mishra orally stated that if you don’t care about the farmers and don’t have funds then tell us we will provide the funds. The Bench observed that the air pollution has become a recurring event. The Supreme Court of India has passed the following directions to deal with air pollution:
- Chief Secretaries of Punjab U.P and Haryana to take measures to reduce crops stubble burning.
- Local Administration both administrative and Police to be held liable if stubble burning takes place.
- Panchayats to prepare inventory of incumbents who have burned stubble in the area.
- Delhi Government to take steps to tackle garbage disposal
- All demolation activities in Delhi to be banned and violators to be penalized Rs. 1 lakh.
- To stop coal based industries in the area.
- Sprinkling of water on roads to reduce road dust.
- Ban on use of diesel generators.
- Pollution Control Boards of Delhi U.P., Punjab and Haryana to stop polluting industries working against the law.
Sushila Ram and Govind Gupta
THE INDIAN LAWYER