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Air pollution: Supreme Court directs Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan to immediately stop stubble burning

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the governments of Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana to take immediate steps for the prevention of stubble burning by farmers, noting that burning of parali was one of the major contributors to air pollution.

The Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia directed the Cabinet Secretary to call for a meeting with all stakeholders on Wednesday on this issue

It observed that all stakeholders, including the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, must act promptly to stop crop burning immediately.

The Bench further directed the Delhi government to ensure that municipal solid waste was not burnt in the city during the open and listed the matter for further hearing on Friday. 

Supreme Court says smog towers installed by Delhi govt not working

Coming down on the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD), it said the smog towers installed by the AAP-led government in the national capital as per the earlier directions, were not working. 

It directed the Delhi government to immediately repair the smog towers, while calling the situation ludicrous. 

Noting that stopping stubble burning was the job of the Delhi government, the Apex Court strictly told the Delhi government to take measures from today onwards for the same.

The Apex Court further told Advocate General of Punjab Gurminder Singh, appearing for GNCTD, that the Aam Aadmi Party government must stop the fire, whether by forceful actions or by incentives. 

The administration must take immediate steps. The local SHO must be held responsible, it added. 

The Attorney General of Punjab, while agreeing that immediate steps were required to stop crop burning, said that farmers were burning the stubble on account of economic reasons. 

As an alternative solution, he suggested the Central government to provide subsidies for the required facilities.

Get farmers shift away from paddy cultivation: Punjab counsel

The Counsel for Punjab further said that paddy cultivation must be phased out to be substituted with other crops. The Centre must explore the options for giving Minimum Support Price (MSP) for other crops rather than for paddy, it added.

The Bench noted in its order that a switchover to alternative crops other than paddy (which was not a native crop of Punjab), was required to ensure that the problem of stubble burning did not recur. The switch over could occur only if MSP was not given to paddy and given to other crops.  

It further took in view the fact that the Central Government was pursuing a policy to encourage growing traditional crops.

The Apex Court directed the State of Punjab to strictly implement the Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act 2009.

Noting that the residents of Delhi were grappling with health problems year after year because the government could not find a solution to the issue, the Apex Court said the matter required immediate attention and court monitoring, irrespective of the fact whether the situation improved or not.

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