NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Punjab government for not taking any coercive steps to tackle stubble burning which led to the depletion of air quality in the national capital and asked it to ensure that this does not happen in the future.
A bench headed by Justice Mishra was hearing the issue of air pollution in New Delhi and other parts of north India. For this purpose, the court had summoned Vijay Kumar Dev , chief secretary of Delhi, Karan Avtar Singh,chief secretary of Punjab, and chief secretary of Haryana, Keshni Anand Arora.
The court took cognizance of the matter after stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana and other meteorological factors pushed Delhi’s air quality level down to the ‘very poor’ category.
Slamming the Punjab government, Justice Mishra said, “Why was the government not ready in advance? It seems no steps are taken throughout the year.”
Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing the government, told the court that “200 thousand farmers cannot be controlled”. He suggested that Punjab and Haryana be divided into zones and each zone be allowed to burn stubble on specific days allotted to them.
Justice Mishra also said that the government had “failed miserably” to do their duty.
“Please ensure that there is no stubble burning take place. If you cannot do it then leave it to the court.”
“It seems that there is no coordination among the officers and the state government to deal with this situation. You cannot allow people to die. How many people will suffer from asthma, cancer and other diseases?” Justice Mishra said.
The court said it expects “more from democratic government of the country to deal with issue of stubble burning and curb pollution”, PTI reported.
“Can you permit people to die like this due to pollution?” it asked. “Can you permit the country to go back by 100 years? We have to make governments responsible for this. We cannot even visualise what kind of diseases people are suffering from due to pollution.”
The court said state governments “have no right to be in power” if they do not bother about people. “You just want to sit in your ivory towers and rule,” said Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta.
“You are not bothered and are letting the people die. You have forgotten concept of welfare government, not bothered about poor people, this is very unfortunate. Don’t you feel ashamed that flights are being diverted and citizens are not safe even in their homes?”
The judges tore into the chief secretary of Punjab when he said the Centre was responsible for purchasing the stubble from farmers. The court said the time had come to punish officers. “Again you are passing the buck,” said Mishra. “Why are you chief secretary if you cannot do anything? We will suspend you from here only, you won’t be able to work even for a single day. What is this?”
The court also slammed the Haryana government and asked it about the action it will take in four districts of the state where the stubble is burnt.
The court said that nobody would be spared if they are found violating the rules and regulations.
With ANI inputs