‘Farmers cannot kill others for their own livelihood’ — Supreme Court issues blanket ban on stubble burning in 3 states
- India’s Supreme Court has issued a blanket ban on stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and UP to keep Delhi’s air quality from getting worse.
- “Farmers cannot kill others for their own livelihood,” said Justice Arun Mishra.
- The administration at large will be held responsible for any stubble fires going forward.
- The Supreme Court will hold another hearing on Wednesday where chief secretaries from the respective states have been asked to explain why there is on fine against stubble burning.
Justice Arun Mishra, one of the judges presiding over the hearing, asserted that farmers in Haryana and Punjab can’t “kill others for their own livelihood”. He also pointed out that stubble burning isn’t harming the people of Delhi but also the residents in their states.
The court has directed all crop burning to stop immediately. If caught, the entire administration will be held responsible. Another hearing will be held on Wednesday on the matter. Chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and UP have been asked to attend the hearing. They will be asked to explain why stubble burning shouldn’t be fined and is still prevalent in their states.
Accusing the center and state governments of passing the buck, Mishra blamed them for “making a mockery of the system”, to the point that people are being advised not to venture into the city.
“This cannot happen in a civilised country. Right to life is most important,” he said.
Putting out the fires
The Joint Secretary from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) told the bench that satellite feed of the active fires have been shared with the relevant authorities.
Following which the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India , Atmaram Nadkarni, informed the court that the fires have been extinguished. He said the next step is to make sure that no new fires come up.
The MoEF wanted to use a reward system to entice people into reporting fires but the court felt that questioned whether leaving it up to informers would be enough. Instead, it has put police and local administration in charge of making sure that stubble burning does not take place.
Supreme Court bring down the hammer
In addition to restricting all stubble burning, the Supreme Court has also put a blanket ban on all demolition and construction activity in the National Capital Region (NCR). Should construction continue despite the ban, the local administration will be held liable. A fine of ₹1 lakh will be levied on those found engaging in such activities.
Those found burning garbage will also have to face a fine of ₹5,000.
The Delhi government has been asked to explain how it justifies restricting the movement of private vehicles through the odd-even scheme, but allows 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers and taxis to continue their operations uninterrupted.
“Delhi is choking every year and we are not able to do anything. Every time this is happening for ten to fifteen days,” said Justice Arun Mishra.
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