SC demands immediate end to stubble burning in North India as air quality plummets

| Updated: 08 November, 2023 1:06 pm IST
Air pollution in Delhi has reached an alarming point (TNI photo by Sumit Kumar)

NEW DELHI: As the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the National Capital deteriorates to hazardous levels, the Supreme Court has issued a directive to states to halt stubble burning immediately, identifying Punjab, Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh as the primary contributors to air pollution.

In its order, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia emphasised that stubble burning, though not the sole cause of air pollution, is a significant contributing factor. The court has made the local State House Officer responsible for preventing crop burning, with overall supervision by the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police.

While the Punjab government claims that stubble burning has decreased by 40 per cent, the Supreme Court highlighted that not all battles can be resolved through political means. Justice Kaul asserted, “It (stubble burning) must stop. Something has to be done immediately.”

The Advocate General of Punjab, Gurminder Singh, proposed phasing out paddy cultivation in favour of alternative crops and called for Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for these alternatives.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court pointed out that while the central government promotes millet cultivation, it also contributes to the depletion of the water table. The court expressed scepticism about the effectiveness of the odd-even vehicle scheme in addressing pollution.

In an effort to combat the critical issue of air pollution, the Supreme Court has instructed the Chief Secretaries of the concerned states to convene a meeting, either in person or via video conference, to address the pollution problem promptly.


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