Air pollution

The Supreme Court has come down heavily on States as air quality in Delhi-NCR deteriorating to ‘severe’ level, affecting the health of millions.

The apex court lashed the governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi for their inefficiency to take measures to curb air pollution in the national capital which has been plagued by a blanket of smog post-Diwali. Though the situation has improved a bit due to sunny days, long term measures are expected to keep the particulate matters at bay.

The top court said that they have no right to be in power if they don’t bother about people.
“You just want to sit in your ivory towers and rule. You are not bothered and are letting the people die,” Justice Arun Mishra said.

Stubble burning and vehicular emissions are some of the factors affecting the quality of air, choking residents in the national capital.

Fuming on lackadaisical response, the court has also ordered the governments of Punjab, Haryana and UP to give an incentive of Rs 100 per quintal within seven days to small and marginal farmers who have not burnt crop stubble. The burning of crop residue in the three states is stated to be responsible for 44 percent of the air pollution in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR).

“Can you permit people to die like this due to pollution? Can you permit the country to go back by 100 years?” asked the bench headed by Justice Mishra to Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and UP who were summoned to the court.

The court said despite the apex court’s order, no serious efforts were made in advance by the states to prevent stubble burning.

“Why you were not prepared for this (prevent stubble burning) in advance? What steps have you taken to prevent it? If state governments cannot do this, let them go. We do not bother. In case, you are not bothered about people, you have no right to be in power.”

An anguished bench further said, “It is not for the court to run the government or teach you what you should do at the ground level. You have no idea, no road map to deal with it.”

The court said it is a question of life and death for crores of people living in the NCR region as they are suffering from a critical illness like cancer and asthma.

“How many people will suffer from cancer, asthma and so many other diseases due to this? We cannot even visualise what kind of diseases are there in Delhi due to pollution,” it said.

“You (states) have forgotten the concept of welfare government. They are not bothered about poor people, this is very unfortunate,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta.

“We expect more from democratic governments of the country to deal with the issue of stubble burning and curb pollution,” the bench said.

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