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'People In 5-Star Hotels Blaming Farmers; No Action Against Gas Guzzling Hifi Cars' : Supreme Court In Delhi Pollution Case

Srishti Ojha
17 Nov 2021 10:39 AM GMT
People In 5-Star Hotels Blaming Farmers; No Action Against Gas Guzzling Hifi Cars : Supreme Court In Delhi Pollution Case
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday made strong oral remarks against farmers being blamed for contributing to Delhi's pollution through stubble burning without any consideration of their plight and circumstances forcing them to do the same. The observations were made by a bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant while hearing a PIL which seeks urgent...

The Supreme Court on Wednesday made strong oral remarks against farmers being blamed for contributing to Delhi's pollution through stubble burning without any consideration of their plight and circumstances forcing them to do the same. 

The observations were made by a bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant while hearing a PIL which seeks urgent measures to improve the air quality of the national capital.

The critical remarks were made in response to arguments on behalf of the Central government, Delhi government and the petitioners regarding the percentage of pollution attributable to stubble burning by farmers.

Justice Kant, who during the previous hearing had mentioned that he himself was a farmer, lamented that no one was concerned with the plight of farmers, in what circumstances they are compelled to resort to stubble burning, and the reasons why they're unable to follow these scientific reports being suggested by the Governments.

"People sitting in 5 stars in Delhi keep blaming farmers, that 4%,5% is attributed to them. After agrarian laws, what happened to their landholdings? With such small landholdings, can they afford these machines? If you actually have any scientific alternative, propose it to them, they'll adopt them," Justice Kant said.

The Bench further observed that while it has been acknowledged by both the Centre and the Delhi government that sources like transportation is a major source of pollution, "gas guzzlers and hifi cars" are still plying on Delhi roads and nothing is being done.

"All of you in your all affidavits are acknowledging, for example, that transportation is a pollution source. We know it all gas guzzlers, tractors, hi fi cars are plying in Delhi on every route. You're saying you'll encourage people to stop it. Now how will you? and who will encourage and who will accept?" Justice Kant said.

"What about other things? Construction happens all year. Other industrial activities take place 365 days and have nothing to do with season", CJI remarked.

The Chief Justice of India said that the Court has said that it does not want to penalize the farmers and has suggested that they should be persuaded to stop stubble burning.

"We don't want to penalize farmers. We have requested states to persuade the farmers to not burn stubble. Why are you again and again raising this?", the CJI said.

The Chief Justice of India observed that according to the Delhi Government measures to reduce vehicular emissions by closing offices, banning vehicles etc will be be useful only if the neighbouring states in NCR region implement it as well.

He expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that no call has been taken in this regard by the Commission. (Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas). 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed that Court that the steps as elaborated in Centre's affidavit are those suggested by the Commission and they will further be reviewed on 21st November.

Referring to Delhi Government's decision to introduce work from home, the Bench also suggested that the staff in central government offices can be reduced and they can be asked to use public transport system instead of private commute.

"You don't need 100% of your staff. In covid times you restricted entry to offices. You reduce the number, instead of 100 you can say 50 can come." CJI said

Justice Kant also suggested that employees living in several government localities in Delhi can travel from there to work in public transport systems.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta however submitted that while introducing work from home in a State may have an implication only in that place, introducing the same in the Central Government offices can have a "pan-India" effect.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the writ petitioner, submitted that adequate measures in advance need to be taken to dissuade farmers from resorting to stubble burning.  He emphasized that planning for the next year's winter crisis should start right now.

"Air pollution is an endemic problem. The Supreme Court asks the government, and the governments say 'we will do this and that'... but nothing happens. It's wrongly reported that stubble contributes only 10 per cent to air pollution. It could be up to 50 per cent during the current season. We are not into farmer bashing. But stubble burning is a serious problem", Singh submitted.

On Monday (November 15), the Court had observed in the order that the major contributors to pollution were industrial emission, vehicular transport, power plants and construction activities, and the contribution of stubble burning was comparatively less. The Court had then directed the Centre to take emergency steps to address these issues.

Case Title: Aditya Dubey(Minor) Versus Union of India and others| WP(c) No.1135 of 2020

Click Here To Read/Download The Order


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