Delhi pollution: Putting farmers in jail for crop burning not the solution, amicus curiae tells SC

Husk burning in Punjab and Haryana is a 'huge problem' causing pollution in and around Delhi but taking punitive action against the farmers was not a solution to resolve the issue, the Supreme Court was told

PTI October 27, 2017 19:43:49 IST
Delhi pollution: Putting farmers in jail for crop burning not the solution, amicus curiae tells SC

New Delhi: Husk burning in Punjab and Haryana is a "huge problem" causing pollution in and around Delhi but taking punitive action against the farmers was not a solution to resolve the issue, the Supreme Court was told on Friday.

Arguing before a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, senior advocate Harish Salve, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the air pollution matter, said that farmers have a genuine problem and their plight should be understood.

"There is a huge problem of husk burning in Punjab. In Haryana also, farmers are burning husk. We have to plan a solution for this problem. It is polluting Delhi and national capital region (NCR)," Salve told the bench.

Delhi pollution Putting farmers in jail for crop burning not the solution amicus curiae tells SC

File image of crop burning. Reuters

He said the government should provide trains and trucks to remove these husks so that it is not burnt by the farmers.

"We understand the plight of farmers. Putting them in jail cannot be done. They have a genuine problem but at the same time, the city is choking due to this," Salve said.

During the hearing, the court said it would first deal with a report of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) relating to the comprehensive action plan for air pollution control with the objective to meet ambient air quality in the Delhi-NCR, including states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The bench said as per the report, two issues, including the scheduled implementation of BS VI emission standards, were required to be dealt with by it.

The court asked the government to come prepared for arguments on these issues and fixed the matter for hearing on 17 November.

The top court had earlier asked the Centre to mull over whether on-board diagnostic (OBD) scanners could be made compulsory for vehicle pollution test centres in grade A cities like Delhi, from 1 December.

OBD is an automotive term referring to a vehicle's self- diagnostic and reporting capability. OBD II is designed to inform a car owner about any malfunction, including  problems with the brake or the emission control system.

In its report filed in the court, EPCA has favoured a review and upgradation of the pollution under control norms for pre-BS IV vehicles and upgrade the test procedure for smoke density of commercial vehicles.

The apex court is dealing with a petition which has raised the issue of air pollution and its ill-effects in and around Delhi and NCR.

The court had on 2 December last year accorded its nod to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to tackle different levels of pollution. It had also asked the Central Pollution Control Board to upgrade its existing infrastructure and set up additional monitoring stations in Delhi-NCR within six months.

The GRAP, aimed at reducing air pollution, has enumerated a number of measures which include closing brick kilns, hot mix plants, stone crushers, intensifying public transport services besides increase in frequency of mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water on roads.

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