As smog engulfs the National Capital Region (NCR), the Delhi High Court has asked the Centre and the governments of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to explain why they had not taken concrete actions to control air pollution caused by stubble burning despite its orders.
A Bench headed by Justice S Ravindra Bhat, which had on September 22 issued a series of directions to the Centre and the four state governments to stop the practice of stubble burning by farmers, expressed serious concern over the deteriorating air quality.
'Until the government treats the issue as something which is of concern to all of us, nothing is going to change,' the Bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, said and asked the Centre and the governments of Delhi and the four states to submit reports on steps taken by them to stop stubble burning.
The order came after amicus curiae senior advocate, Kailash Vasdev, told the Bench that despite court orders, state governments had hardly done anything.
Stubble burning begins in October and continues up to January, affecting air quality. According to affidavits filed in the court, 14 million tonne of paddy straw is burnt in Punjab alone. The emission of particulate matter is beyond any acceptable human endurance, or 'danger' levels. The figures regarding particulate matter emissions for Haryana are equally large.
Punjab contended it had prohibited indiscriminate burning of agricultural waste. The court had on September 22 issued directions to Punjab, Haryana, UP, Delhi and Rajasthan to implement the ban on stubble burning. Meanwhile, the Delhi Government has ordered primary schools, including private ones, to remain shut on Wednesday
Schools in Haryana will function from 9 am to 3.30 pm, against the earlier timing of 8 am to 2.30 pm, beginning Wednesday and in Punjab, schools in four districts — Ferozepur, Faridkot, Fazilka and Barnala — will open at 10 am instead of 9 am.