Delhi HC wants Centre’s response on plea to stop stubble burning
The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the Centre’s response on a plea seeking immediate steps to prevent stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana on the grounds it could aggravate coronavirus- related problems.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan issued notice to the Centre on an application that contended that stubble burning would increase air pollution drastically in the national capital and could further aggravate health problems in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
In his plea, advocate Sudhir Mishra, urged the court that the central government should be directed to coordinate a meeting between the chief secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to address the issue.
Mishra told the court that stubble burning has already started in Punjab and Haryana. He said the deadly virus has already claimed 92,000 lives and stubble burning would further weaken the immunity of people.
He said the chief ministers of Delhi, UP, Haryana should sit and bring out a solution to the problem.
The Centre told the bench that despite directions from the respective state governments not to burn stubble or face penalty for violation, farmers were doing it.
Delhi government additional standing counsel Naushad Ahmed Khan told the court that a similar matter with respect to air pollution is pending and hence this matter should be tagged along with that.
The court listed the matter for hearing on October 22 and asked the central government to find out if any similar matter was pending before the Supreme Court.
The application was filed by Mishra in his main PIL moved in 2015 seeking directions to the Centre to take immediate steps to control increasing air pollution in the national capital.
He claimed there is a direct connection between the increase in air pollution and the rise in Covid-19 cases in Delhi.
This year, farmers have already begun burning crop residue in parts of Punjab and Haryana, satellite images from Nasa has shown, suggesting an early start to a practice that plunges much of the region.
Every year these farm fires usually begin in full-swing by mid-October. Last year early fires were detected by September 25.
Clouds of smoke cover Delhi and parts of north India in a thick blanket of toxic smoke every year, triggering a public health crisis.
This year, there are fears that it is likely to exacerbate the Covid-19 outbreak. Research from Italy, one of the first coronavirus hot spots, showed that air pollution was linked to worse mortality rates. The virus, in severe cases, causes respiratory distress -- a condition that can be made worse to exposure to polluted air.