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Delhi air pollution updates: 'Stop stubble burning on priority', SC directs Punjab, Haryana, UP to give incentives, subsidised machinery to farmers

SC on Delhi air pollution LIVE Updates: A Special Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Arun Mishra on Wednesday directed the Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh governments to provide an incentive of Rs 100 per quintal to the states' farmers in seven days.

FP Staff November 06, 2019 18:34:39 IST
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Delhi air pollution updates: 'Stop stubble burning on priority', SC directs Punjab, Haryana, UP to give incentives, subsidised machinery to farmers

Highlights

16:31 (ist)

SC says farmers can't only be penalised, govt also to be made accountable

The Supreme Court was scathingly critical of the Centre and the state governments, in specific Punjab, for the failure to control stubble burning in their states year after year, which was contributing heavily to the annual smog and rise in pollution in Delhi.

Responding to the Centre's argument that 2,00,000 farmers can't be made to follow the law if stubble burning is banned, the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said that governments needed to the "hauled up" for not buying the stubble.

"Governments need to be hauled up under law of torts. Why the government is not buying stubble? Only the poor farmer should be penalised while government is not made accountable? It cannot be like this," the bench was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench.

12:59 (ist)

In its Monday hearing SC termed severe air pollution in Delhi-NCR region 'atrocious'

The Supreme Court, in its Monday hearing, termed the severe air pollution in Delhi-NCR "atrocious" and banned all construction and demolition activities, along with burning of garbage and waste, in Delhi and NCR region.

The apex court emphasised that the entire police machinery and local administration must ensure no crop burning occurs. The court further said if stubble burning is found to be taking place, the administration would be held liable.

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Nov 06, 2019 - 18:32 (IST)

Share of stubble burning in air pollution in Delhi to reduce to 2% tomorrow: SAFAR 

SAFAR's data showed that the share of stubble burning in Delhi's PM2.5 air pollution was just 3 percent on Wednesday and is likely to be 2 percent on Thursday.

The air quality monitor said AQI was expected to enter the moderate category in case of high rainfall on Thursday.

Nov 06, 2019 - 18:20 (IST)

SAFAR as share of stubble burning in Delhi pollution dropped to 3%

The share of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution dropped to a meagre 3 percent on Wednesday due to a change in the wind direction, according to the government's air quality monitoring and forecasting service, SAFAR. Punjab had on Tuesday recorded the season's highest farm fire count of 6,668 despite a recent Supreme Court order to completely halt stubble burning.

SAFAR said, "A change in the wind direction has led to a very low biomass plume intrusion in spite of the fact that the fire count observed yesterday was very high." It said Delhi's overall air quality index improved significantly (from very poor to poor) on Wednesday, more rapidly than predicted.

Nov 06, 2019 - 18:17 (IST)

Tushar Mehta says element of deterrent required to curb stubble burning

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, while weighing in during the hearing of petitions regarding the air pollution in Delhi and stubble burning in Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh, said, "An element of deterrent should also be there. With any amount of incentivising, the deterring factor for farmers should not go."

Nov 06, 2019 - 18:01 (IST)

Construction activities still on in Delhi, take action against violators: SC

The Supreme Court reportedly noted that construction and demolition activities were still going on in Delhi even though the apex court on Monday directed that all such projects be stopped with immediate effect until further orders. "Look at the level of pollution. Please take strict action against the violators," Justice Arun Mishra said.

"What is happening to the funds coming from World Bank for better infrastructure and development. So many funds have been given, where is the concept of smart city? Why have the roads not improved?"

Nov 06, 2019 - 17:49 (IST)

SC orders Haryana, Punjab, UP govts to incentivise farmers against stubble burning

A Special Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Arun Mishra on Wednesday directed the Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh governments to provide an incentive of Rs 100 per quintal to the states' farmers in seven days.

The bench also directed the state governments to undertake all the operational costs and providing stubble-converting machines to farmers at subsidised prices. "Stop stubble burning on priority," the bench said.

Nov 06, 2019 - 17:46 (IST)

SC slams Delhi chief secy over ineffective action on road dust, garbage dumping

The Special Bench of the Supreme Court also criticised the chief secretary of the National Capital over the protracted problem of air pollution in the city. "You cannot deal with road dust, not with construction demolition, not with garbage dumping. Why are you in the chair? This is the capital city of India. It cannot be ignored like this," Justice Arun Mishra said.

The levels of air pollution reached unprecedented levels in Delhi last week when the air quality index crossed 400, which is in the 'very severe' category.

Nov 06, 2019 - 17:39 (IST)

Chief secys of Delhi, UP also submit before SC

While questioning the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary on the issue of stubble burning, the Special Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra noted that the orders given to the Punjab and Haryana governments over purchasing stubble from farmers will also apply to Uttar Pradesh and the Delhi-NCR area. 

Nov 06, 2019 - 17:34 (IST)

SC summons Haryana chief secretary, says state has fared 'worse than Punjab'

Soon after the Supreme Court's Special Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra pulled up the Punjab chief secretary over the stubble burning in the state, the bench questioned the chief secretary of Haryana over why stubble burning was taking place in the state.

The official said that farmers had been given the machinery to convert stubble but the procedure cost of Rs 2,000 was disincentivising the farmers from using it. "The sensitising process is taking place through meetings of the gram sabhas," the bureaucrat said.

However, Justice Mishra said, "Sensitising is happening now? You are worse than Punjab. They started the process in January, but you are doing it now. Now time to make them aware has gone. You have to take positive steps to purchase this stubble."

Nov 06, 2019 - 17:23 (IST)

Precious time being lost to prepare for next crop: SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday made a strong pitch for farmers in the hearing regarding the rising air pollution in Delhi and stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana. Providing the states with seven days to procure the stubble from farmers to curb pollution, Justice Arun Mishra said, "In the coming seven days, you take all steps to procure the stubble. Mobilise the entire machinery, spend as much money as required but purchase the stubble. Precious time is being lost as regards preparing the field for the next crop."

To the statement from the Punjab chief secretary that there were "reactions from some elements" against the government's action plan on curbing stubble burning, Justice Mishra said, "You cannot penalise farmers without providing them amenities. There will be a law and order problem."

"You are not providing them basic facilities nand then you want to punish the farmers. You cannot sit in your ivory tower and try to rule like this," he added.

Nov 06, 2019 - 17:14 (IST)

SC gives Punjab, Haryana govts seven days to purchase stubble

Coming down heavily on the Punjab and Haryana govts for their failure to implement an action plan to curb stubble burning in their states, the Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the state governments a duration of seven days to formulate a plan to buy the stubble from the farmers. The bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also criticised the Punjab chief secretary for "passing the buck" the Centre for continued stubble burning.

"Again you are passing the buck, why are you Chief Secretary if you cannot do anything? We will suspend you from here only, you won't be able to work even for a single day. You are also a state government, don't depend on the Centre for everything.. it is not for the courts to run the government. Why have a state administration if you don't want to do anything? Why can't collection or purchase of stubble be done at panchayat level?" he added.

SC on Delhi air pollution LATEST Updates: A Special Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Arun Mishra on Wednesday directed the Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh governments to provide an incentive of Rs 100 per quintal to the states' farmers in seven days.

The bench also directed the state governments to undertake all the operational costs and providing stubble-converting machines to farmers at subsidised prices. "Stop stubble burning on priority," the bench said.

Coming down heavily on the Punjab and Haryana govts for their failure to implement an action plan to curb stubble burning in their states, the Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the state governments a duration of seven days to formulate a plan to buy the stubble from the farmers. The bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also criticised the Punjab chief secretary for "passing the buck" the Centre for continued stubble burning.

"Again you are passing the buck, why are you Chief Secretary if you cannot do anything? We will suspend you from here only, you won't be able to work even for a single day. You are also a state government, don't depend on the Centre for everything.. it is not for the courts to run the government. Why have a state administration if you don't want to do anything? Why can't collection or purchase of stubble be done at panchayat level?" he added.

The Special Bench of the Supreme Court hearing petitions regarding the air pollution and stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, questioned the state governments over why the administration was not ready in advance even though "everyone knew that stubble burning would occur" as an annual event.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, saying that there were two ways of dealing with the disposal of stubble, added that machines to convert stubble into in-situ manure had been provided by the Centre in Haryana at a subsidised rate.

In response, Justice Arun Mishra asked why the machines were not provided in advance. He pulled up Punjab chief secretary over the response that 18,000 machines have been distributed, saying, "Why did you wait till September for this distribution? You started late that is why all machines could not be distributed."

The Supreme Court bench hearing the petitions regarding the air pollution in Delhi pulled up the Punjab and Haryana governments over stubble burning in the states and laid out three directives to combat the issue.

Criticising the Centre and the Punjab chief secretary of the lack of action in curbing stubble burning despite knowing that air pollution is an annual menace, Justice Mishra said that the apex court will hold authorities responsible for the collection of stubble so that farmers are not pushed to burn it.

"We cannot leave it with the farmers. We will make authorities responsible for collection (of stubble). But the lives of crores of people are affected by this stubble burning," he said, rejecting the Centre's solution to the issue.

Responding to AG KK Venugopal's argument that farmers will be adversely affected if stubble burning is completely banned, Justice Arun Mishra, heading the Special Bench hearing petitions regarding the rising levels of air pollution in Delhi, slammed the Centre and state governments for the lack of an effective solution to the annual pollution "menace".

Mishra said, "Why is the government not giving any other solution? Stubble burning is bad. The Attorney in a democratic country cannot give a suggestion like this. Why can't the Centre or State come up with a solution?"

Reportedly, the bench also pulled up the Punjab chief secretary over stubble burning and said that it was "time to punish officials at the top". Justice Mishra, questioning the official said, "Why are you the chief secretary if you can't protect life? Let the Central Govt rule the entire country if you say everything has to be done by them. You shouldn't be in the chair."

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta has assembled for the hearing of fresh petitions regarding the air pollution in Delhi. Chief secretaries of states like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh have also been summoned as the apex court seeks an explanation over why laws around stubble burning have not been implemented satisfactorily.

On Monday, the court had taken up the issue, which it termed as an "annual menace" and issued a slew of directions for immediate respite from the protracted problem.

Talking about stubble burning and rising air pollution in Delhi, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday suggested that converting stubble to CNG is possible, both "technologically" and "commercially". He further said this will help in providing jobs, additional income to farmers and solve the pollution crisis.

However, the air quality had improved on Tuesday from the previous days giving some respite to people suffering from pollution.

The Delhi government on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that CNG vehicles were not exempted from the Odd-Even rationing scheme as they could have caused traffic congestion due to their sheer numbers.

The government's assertions came in its reply to a batch of representations that challenged the implementation of the road rationing scheme in the National Capital.

The Supreme Court will take up a suo motu case entitled, 'alarming rise in air pollution in Delhi and adjoining areas' on Wednesday. The National Capital and adjoining areas have been reeling under a smog-like situation making it extremely difficult for Delhiites. A special bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta will hear the matter at 3.30 pm today.

The chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh will also appear, as instructed by the apex court in the Monday hearing, before the Supreme Court. Earlier on Monday, the apex court had lashed out at governments of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana for what it termed an "annual pollution nightmare". The Supreme Court also slammed Centre for indulging blame-game with state governments over the issue.

Meanwhile,  the air quality in Delhi-NCR continues to hover between "severe" and "very poor" category.

The Supreme Court, in its Monday hearing, termed the severe air pollution in Delhi-NCR "atrocious" and banned all construction and demolition activities, along with burning of garbage and waste, in Delhi and NCR region.

The apex court emphasised that the entire police machinery and local administration must ensure no crop burning occurs. The court further said if stubble burning is found to be taking place, the administration would be held liable.

The apex court had observed that people could not be "left to die" due to the "worse-than-emergency situation" and said that those carrying out construction and demolition activities, despite its order, would be fined Rs 1 lakh. It added that a penalty of Rs 5,000 would be imposed if anyone was found burning garbage and waste in the region.

The top court said in case of any violation, the local administration and zonal officers would be held responsible.

It said the prevailing situation in the area was a "blatant and grave violation of the right to life of an individual" and scientific data suggested that the life span of those living in the region have been reduced due to this.

The top court said the authorities could not indulge in "passing the buck" and should collectively try to tackle the situation.

"Can we survive in this atmosphere? This is not the way we can survive," the bench said, adding that the authorities have left the people to die.

"Delhi is choking every year and we are not able to do anything. Question is that every year this is happening," the bench said, adding, "It cannot be done in a civilised country".

It asked the Delhi government and the civic bodies to chalk out a plan to ensure removal of the waste dumped at open spaces and come up with a scheme to deal with the issue.

The Delhi government also came under fire from the judges, and it has been asked to produce data or records to prove that the Odd-Even scheme has reduced pollution in the capital.

Justice Arun Mishra asked the government, "What is the logic behind odd-even scheme? We can understand banning diesel vehicles, but what is the point of the odd-even scheme?" Justice Mishra further remarked, "Cars create less pollution. What are you (Delhi government) getting from this odd-even?"

The Arvind Kejriwal-led government rolled out the third edition of the 12-day Odd-Even scheme on Monday to combat the rise in air pollution.

Several reports have showed that the air quality in the city had, in fact, improved after the implementation of the scheme. On Tuesday, the average air quality index (AQI) was recorded as 369 at 9 am, and an increase in wind speed was also expected to help clear the haze that had formed over the capital. On Monday, the pollution levels peaked to a three-year high (494).

Regarding pollution due to dust accumulated on the roads, the top court had said water be sprinkled on the stretches which were prone to dust. It directed that a traffic plan be prepared so that there was no burden on a particular road and the problem of pollution due to traffic congestion could be tackled. It asked the traffic authorities concerned to take immediate steps in this regard.

The top court had asked the court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) to hold a meeting on 4 November and take a decision on whether the industries, which contributed to the pollution levels of Delhi-NCR, could be shut down during this period.

It had also asked the EPCA to take a call regarding banning the entry of diesel-run trucks, except those carrying essential commodities, in Delhi. Several other directions were passed by the top court to contain pollution saying that short term steps were needed to check the emergent situation.

With inputs from agencies 

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