After being rebuked on several occasions for not taking effective steps to tackle the pollution crisis in the national capital region, Narendra Modi led government has finally received a thumbs up from the Supreme Court. Reportedly, on Monday (January 29), the Supreme Court appreciated its ‘bold’ steps to make air breathable not only in Delhi but in all cities. A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta approved the Centre’s comprehensive plan to tackle the problem of stubble burning in neighbouring states of Delhi. The pat on the shoulder from the SC comes after the Centre had set up a high-level task force under the principal secretary to the Prime Minister to deal with the crisis and the panel set up a sub-committee to exclusively suggest measures to deal with stubble-burning which is one of the main reasons for deteriorating air quality in NCR in winter.
The Centre’s plan to combat air pollution includes – the decision to provide subsidies to farmers to purchase machines —Happy Seeder and Rotavators — for in-situ management of paddy residue. A flat subsidy of 50 % of the cost of the machinery would be given through the direct benefit transfer mechanism to individual farmers who are willing to buy machines and in case of cooperative societies, farmers’ interest groups or gram panchayats, a subsidy of 75 % of the cost of the machinery would be provided.
Additional solicitor general A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the government had framed rules on dust-mitigation measures for construction and demolition activities. Cities and towns where the hazardous particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) exceeds the prescribed limits would now have to implement measures to reduce dust.
The Supreme Court also asked the Centre to give publicity to the report of a high-level task force on prevention of stubble burning in states like Punjab and Haryana to make people aware that “something is being done”. “Everybody should be aware that something is being done. There can be changes and improvements. You cannot have a programme for Delhi-NCR only. All the information has to be disseminated,” the bench told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) ANS Nadkarni, representing the Centre.