Observing that the national capital every year grapples with the menace of haze due to stubble burning affecting people’s health, Delhi High Court directed the neighbouring states to “strike while the iron is hot” to prevent this practice.
A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar said it had taken a serious view of the matter as Delhi and its people have been grappling with the problem every year, despite orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to stop the practice of burning of crop and agriculture residue.
The bench made it clear it will hold the Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh responsible if the orders of NGT and the court were not implemented.
“Every year we grapple with the menace of haze due to stubble burning. It (burning of crop residue) may have already started as you can see haze in the early morning. It will hit us and the situation will get worse. It will even become difficult to breathe.
“We are taking a serious view on it this year. NGT has been asking them (states) to take action, but nobody is doing anything. If you do not hit now while the iron is hot, the situation in Delhi will become worse,” the court said.
Noting that “stubble burning is not permissible under the law”, it said the “difficulty lies in implementation” as “despite orders of NGT and this court, this practice has gone unabated and year after year and Delhi has been engulfed in haze, constituents of which are aerosols from stubble burning and dust”.
The bench said the effects of pollution were felt by every citizen, particularly the elderly and children in the national capital who experience difficulty in breathing.
The court also said pollution manifested itself in long term effect like “reduction in longevity”, particularly so for PM 2.5, a fine particulate matter which can be absorbed in the blood stream.
“It is for this reason that preventive measures need to be taken and we should strike when the iron is hot,” it said.
Expressing hope that the law and court orders would be followed in letter and spirit, the bench directed the four states to file status reports with regard to action taken by them to ensure stubble burning practice is eliminated.
“We are not interested in your responses but the action taken,” the court said and listed the matter for further hearing on October 20.