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'We Want It Stopped': SC Pulls Up Punjab, Haryana Govt on Stubble Burning

"We don't know how you do it, it’s your job. But it must be stopped," the Supreme Court remarked.

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In light of the worsening air quality in Delhi-NCR, the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 7 November, directed the state governments of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to take measures to 'stop the stubble burning immediately.'

“We want it (stubble burning) stopped. We don't know how you do it, it’s your job. But it must be stopped. Something has to be done immediately,” the court remarked.

The SC Bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia observed that air pollution cannot "become a political battle."

The court said that stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana was a key factor behind the spike in Delhi's air quality every winter.

"We are no saying that stubble burning is the only contributor but it is a significant factor," Justice Kaul added.

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'Don't Care How You Do It': SC to States

It also made the local State House Officer (SHO), under the overall supervision of the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police in states, responsible to prevent crop burning.

"We do not care how you do it..it must stop. Whether by sometimes forceful actions and sometimes by incentives...You have to stop the fire. Your administration must do so. Your local SHO must be held responsible.. from today onwards they must start working on it," Justice Kaul said as quoted by Live Law.

The Bench also directed for a meeting to be held on 8 November between the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to ensure that stubble burning is stopped henceforth, Live Law reported.

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'Repair Smog Towers Immediately'

The court also noted that a smog tower installed in Delhi in 2021 was "not working." Calling it "ludicrous," the court directed the Aam Aadmi Party-led government to take immediate steps to repair the smog towers.

The apex court also asked the government to ensure that only the taxis registered in Delhi are plying in the national capital. It also asked Delhi to ensure that municipal solid waste is not burnt in the open.

According to the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), the number of stubble burning incidents have reduced by 56 percent in Punjab, and 40 percent in Haryana this year – as compared to the period between 15 September and 28 October in 2022.

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As the city grapples with 'severely' poor air quality, Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced on Monday, 6 November that the 'odd-even' rule will be implemented in Delhi from 13 November – a day after Diwali.

The fourth phase of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was also implemented in Delhi on 5 November, and 50 percent of government staff directed to work from home amid rising pollution levels.

Further, the Delhi government extended the closure of primary schools till 10 November. For grades 6-12, the schools have been given the option of shifting to online classes.

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Topics:  Air Pollution   Delhi Pollution 

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