November 8, 2023
NEW DELHI – In a firefighting measure to curb and combat alarming levels of air pollution in the national capital, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a halt to stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and some parts of Delhi.
Ordering the immediate halt to stubble burning in the four states adjoining the national capital, a bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia saddled the local SHOs of police stations with the responsibility of enforcing the ban on stubble burning.
The bench also asked the Chief Secretaries of these States to oversee the effective enforcement of the ban on stubble burning – which in the view of the bench though was not the only source of air pollution but an important contributor to the toxication of the air.
“We direct the State government of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and some parts of Delhi to ensure the crop burning is stopped forthwith and the local SHO is made responsible for it under the overall supervision of Chief Secretary for the time being.”
The top court’s direction for immediate action came as the bench observed, “The residents of Delhi are struggling with health issues because we don’t seek to find a solution year after year to the aggravated problem of pollution at this time of the year. This has been an ongoing process for five years. It is time that something is done as of yesterday, than postponing it, as we do believe that the matter requires immediate attention and court monitoring irrespective of the fact whether the weather improves or not.”
The court further said, “It is suggested that the real-time monitoring was to take place by the DPCC but the result has not been put in the public domain. We direct compliance forthwith and direct the chairperson DPCC to be personally present in the court on the next date of hearing – November 10.”
The bench further directed the Delhi government to monitor and ensure that the municipal solid waste is not burnt in the city or in the open as happening during this period as it has an impact.”
Noting that a large number of taxis registered in other States, carrying just one passenger are plying in Delhi, the bench sought whether it is feasible to restrict the plying of the taxis registered in Delhi during this period of time.
The court will hold a further hearing of the matter on Friday – November 10.