IMAGE: A farmer burns paddy stubble at a farm on the outskirts of Amritsar on Wednesday. Photograph: PTI Photo
Lashing out at the authorities for failing to curb severe air pollution in the Delhi-NCR, the Supreme Court Wednesday said it is a question of life and death of crores of people here but it is ‘very unfortunate’ that they are not bothered about poor people and letting them die.
“Can you permit people to die like this due to pollution? Can you permit the country to go back by 100 years,” observed a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.
“We have to make government responsible for this,” the bench said and asked, “Why can’t government machinery stop stubble burning?”
Coming down heavily on state governments, the top court said that if they don’t bother about people, they have no right to be in power.
“You (states) have forgotten the concept of welfare government. They are not bothered about poor people, this is very unfortunate,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta.
“You just want to sit in your ivory towers and rule. You are not bothered and are letting the people die,” the bench said.
It also questioned as to why the state governments cannot collect and purchase stubble from farmers.
“We expect more from democratic government of the country to deal with issue of stubble burning and curb pollution,” the bench said, adding that “it is a question of life and death of crores of people. We have to make govt responsible for this”.
Terming the situation as shocking, the apex court on Monday had summoned Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Share of stubble burning in Delhi pollution drops to 3% due to change in wind direction: SAFAR
The share of stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution dropped to a meagre 3 per cent on Wednesday due to a change in the wind direction, according to the government’s air quality monitoring and forecasting service SAFAR.
Punjab had on Tuesday recorded the season’s highest farm fire count of 6,668 despite a recent Supreme Court order to completely halt stubble burning.
SAFAR said, “A change in the wind direction has led to a very low biomass plume intrusion in spite of the fact that the fire count observed yesterday was very high.”
It said Delhi’s overall air quality index improved significantly (from very poor to poor) on Wednesday, more rapidly than predicted.
“An approaching western disturbance brought cleaner air to the region. Isolated thundershower is expected for the next two days and the wind direction is likely to be southeasterly on November 7. So, no biomass intrusion,” it said.
SAFAR’s data showed the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution was just 3 per cent on Wednesday and is likely to be 2 per cent on Thursday.
The air quality monitor said AQI was expected to enter the moderate category in case of high rainfall on Thursday.
However, by November 8 evening, the wind direction is expected to change to northwesterly and the air quality is likely to enter the ‘very poor’ category again, it said.
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