The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued to slam the Centre and the bureaucracy at the state government level on the issue of severe air pollution in the national capital. As a measure to stop stubble burning, the top court suggested the secretaries in the government should visit fields and engage with farmers and also with the scientists, to find a permanent solution to combat the menace of air pollution.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant said: “We are using our common sense in discussing this issue. As a government, lawyer and judges, we are discussing this. What is the bureaucracy doing? Let the secretaries decide something…”
The bench further added, “Why can’t they go to fields and speak to the farmers, scientists and devise a permanent solution (to stop stubble burning)?”
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the petitioner Aditya Dubey, submitted that stubble burning issue needs attention and if farmers are compensated, farm fires can be controlled.
The Chief Justice queried, has there been any study on how much stubble is removed in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh? He suggested the stubble can be taken to Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, where it can be used as fodder for cattle.
The bench suggested if the Govardhan model is implemented, stubble from these states can be given to states where there is fodder scarcity.
The bench said the weather department has informed that air quality will deteriorate again. It told the Centre’s counsel, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, “We can’t go with wind direction. What steps should be taken?”
Mehta, representing the Centre, said the air quality is expected to improve, but the concerned authorities will continue to monitor it and review the situation after three days, to suggest steps to curb air pollution.
The bench told Mehta to continue with measures to control air pollution for the next 2-3 days, and added that even if pollution goes down now, it will continue to hear the case and issue directions. “We will hear it again on Monday. In the meantime, if the situation improves, lift some bans,” said the bench.
During the hearing, the bench pointed out that Delhi’s air quality has again slipped into poor category and added that the government should come up with a long-term solution. “It (the air quality) will again be in a very serious category…”, noted the bench, as it emphasized developing a scientific model for Delhi to combat the air pollution, which is a recurring issue.
The top court said the authorities should take steps prior to the anticipated days, when air quality is supposed to deteriorate.
The bench said it will continue to monitor the situation throughout the year to keep a tab on mechanisms developed by Centre and states, to address the issue of air pollution. The top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on November 29.
The top court was hearing a petition by a minor Aditya Dubey seeking directions to stop stubble burning and also provide stubble-removing machines to small and marginal farmers for free.