In a significant move aimed at addressing the annual winter air pollution crisis in Delhi, India’s Supreme Court ordered neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to curb crop burning, a practice contributing significantly to the pollution. The apex court also emphasized the responsibility of the states in tackling the environmental issues, stating it as your job.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court sealed
the government, both at the state and the central levels, for failing to forbid the bitter air pollution situation. The court warned that anyone found secular environmental median would be held prone for damages. The judges stated that this is an emergency situation which should be treated with the utmost seriousness and favoured authorities to implement a proper pollution control plan.
The Supreme Court of India recently highlighted the problem of crop burning as a significant cause of winter air pollution in Delhi. Each year, farmers in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan set fire to leftover crops to clear fields for the next planting season. This practice, known as crop dregs burning, produces enormous amounts of smoke and particulate matter, significantly contributing to air pollution levels in nearby regions. This air pollution becomes especially severe in the winter months, causing serious health stake and significantly reducing the air quality in India’s capital.
Moreover, the court implied at possible legal implications if the state and Delhi governments fail to fairly address these pressing environmental concerns. We want effective action. We will not accept excuses, the court warned. It stressed the critical role governments play in protecting the environment and safeguarding public health.
The court stressed the need for comprehensive efforts to address the air pollution head. Stubble burning, vehicular pollution, construction dust, and waste burning, all contribute to the deteriorating air quality. We need measures in place to combat each one of these issues, it stated. It called for strict enforcement of rules, penalties, and alternate arrangements to prevent farmers from resorting to stubble burning.
The court also directed the Delhi government to find alternative modes of public transportation and run them at full capacity to reduce pollution levels.
The court said that the Delhi government, too, must play its part in combatting the pollution issue, specifically referring to the numerous buses running at half capacity and contributing to the pollution. It stated that these issues must be attended to by the government. The court is to look at the contribution of vehicular emissions to the pollution problem as well, another significant factor in Delhi’s poor air quality.
Justices SK Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia, who are handling the case, have postponed further discussions until Friday. The Centre has been asked by the court to arrange a meeting with representatives from the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Delhi to strategize ways to curb straw burning, a practice popularly regarded as a big contributor to air pollution.
The court was hearing a case flagging the harmful air quality in the national capital, which has been in the ‘severe’ category over the past some days. During the hearing, the Central Pollution Control Board presented its data, illustrating the alarming situation. A comparison was made between the World Health Organization’s standard of fortune air quality, which is an Air Quality Index (AQI) of below 50, and Delhi’s AQI of 400.
The court issued directives for immediate measures to control the situation. The increasing levels of pollution in Delhi has been a big cause of concern. The Supreme Court, while hearing the case, emphasized on the urgency of addressing the issues. It also asked for detailed plans from CAQM
Commission Air Quality Management and regional authorities. While these bodies claim they are doing everything possible to control pollution, the issue of stubble burning, which significantly contributes to poor air quality, is persisting.
Senior Advocate Gopal Shankaranarayan expressed that this matter has been under review since 2017, highlighting its complexity and the difficulties in finding an optimal solution. This ongoing hearing shows the court’s commitment to enforcing sustainable farming practices and promoting environmental conservation.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which governs Delhi, has generally pointed the finger at the neighbouring states, charge them of not doing enough to check the practice. They argue that the governments of Punjab and Haryana demand to offer more incentives and solutions to farmers to hinder burning. Meanwhile, BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have come under inquiry for not banning diesel buses, a meaningful source of air pollution. Despite being asked by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to phase out diesel buses and switch to cleaner fuels, they have not yet implemented such measures. Gopal Rai has backed them to do their part in fighting air pollution.
Sachdeva also pointed out that there are ciuntless other factors contributing to air pollution in the region which have not been fairly addressed by the Arvind Kejriwal government. These contain road dust, industrial emissions, and vehicle drain, all of which combined account for a much larger share of pollution than farm fires. He charged the government of selectively addressing only one source of pollution and ignoring others, thus failing to effectively combat the problem in its entirety.
Against its capacity and cost-effectiveness, this practice of crop burning, also known as chaff burning, has severe consequences on the environment and human health. Burning crop remains releases harmful pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter into the air, leading to air pollution. These pollutants not only damage the environment but also pose a significant risk to human health. The alternative is to rope in labour or machines to do the job-both requiring considerable funds.