Supreme Court’s Bold Statement on Delhi’s Air Pollution: “A Murder of People’s Health”

The court said the burning of crop residue in neighboring Punjab and Haryana is a critical factor behind the massive spike in Delhi’s air pollution every winter.

The Supreme Court of India emphasized today that the issue of air pollution in Delhi should not be turned into a political dispute. The court underscored that the hazardous air quality in the city is equivalent to the “murder of people’s health.”

The Supreme Court pointed out that the practice of burning crop residue in the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana is a significant factor contributing to the severe increase in air pollution in Delhi every winter. The court directed the Punjab government to take decisive actions to halt stubble burning, stating, “We want it stopped. We don’t know how you do it, it’s your responsibility. But it must be stopped. Immediate action is necessary,” the court told the Punjab government’s lawyer.

The case is scheduled for its next hearing on Friday. The Supreme Court has called upon the Central government to convene a meeting involving the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Delhi to explore measures to curb stubble burning. The court has also expressed its intent to address vehicular emissions, which are another significant contributor to Delhi’s air pollution problem.

During the court proceedings, the focus was on the severe air quality conditions prevailing in the national capital, which have consistently fallen within the ‘severe’ category in recent days. According to data from the Central Pollution Control Board, numerous areas in Delhi recorded an Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeding 400, which is four times higher than the acceptable air quality standard.

Advocate Aparajita Singh, representing the petitioner, highlighted that farm fires in Punjab remain unchecked, with stubble burning being the primary contributor to the deterioration of Delhi’s air quality. She pointed out that both the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) and the states claim to be taking measures to combat air pollution, yet stubble burning continues.

The court expressed its concern, stating that Delhi cannot endure these conditions any longer.

The annual surge in air pollution in Delhi, exacerbated by stubble burning, has become a contentious issue in recent years. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi has previously accused the governments of Punjab and Haryana, which are led by rival political parties, of not effectively addressing the issue of crop residue burning.

Now, the AAP finds itself in a delicate position as it governs both Delhi and Punjab. The party has asserted that stubble burning in Punjab has significantly decreased and has shifted the blame to the BJP-led Haryana government.

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