‘Punjab stubble burning worsening air pollution in Delhi’, SC agrees to hear plea (Ld)

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine on November 10 a plea seeking urgent steps to curb air pollution in Delhi. The plea said the stubble burning in Punjab was the major contributor to the worsening air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

Advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit, and sought an urgent hearing in the matter.

Jha said the air pollution in the capital is in severe category due to increase in stubble burning and sought a direction to the state governments to take necessary measures in order to reduce the pollution, which includes installation of smog-towers, plantation drive, affordable public transport, etc.

The plea contended that the 24-hour air quality index in Delhi touched 424 on November 1 entering the severe zone (400+) after hovering at its threshold the previous day at 392.

The plea also sought a direction issuing fresh guidelines to the state governments in respect to stubble burning. The plea has arrayed the central government and governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, as respondents in the matter.

The top court said it agrees that the matter requires intervention and scheduled the plea for hearing on November 10.

The plea said: “Despite of the clear orders of this court to stop stubble burning and construction causing air pollution, there is rampant pollution in the National Capital territory and other places making it difficult for people to survive.”

It added, “That the said situation is directly against the Right to life (Article 21) of people at large. It is also the responsibility of petitioner under fundamental duties (Article 51A) to file this petition so as to guide the country in a positive framework and avoid it from becoming sick when due course is available.”

The plea said the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) has stated that on November 1, a total of 2,109 fire incidents due to stubble burning were recorded out of which Punjab had recorded 1,842 incidents, Haryana recorded 88 incidents, Uttar Pradesh recorded nine incidents and Delhi recorded one incident of stubble burning.

The air quality of the national capital on Thursday morning turned “severe” as the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city stood at 418, according to data from the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).

However, by the evening, the overall Air Quality Index further deteriorated and surged to 458, as per the SAFAR data. The PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentration stood at 458 and 433, respectively, both under the same ‘Severe’ category, according to the SAFAR data. The AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’; from 51 to 100 ‘satisfactory’; 101- 200 ‘moderate’; 201-300 ‘poor’; 301-400 ‘very poor’; and 401-500 ‘severe’.

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