‘Blaming farmers have become fashion’: Top 10 quotes of Supreme Court during hearing of Delhi air pollution

On Saturday, the apex court bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant suggested implementing a two-day lockdown in Delhi, saying that the air quality of the city is likely to dip further in the next two to three days.
Stubble burning emissions in the second week of November have hit a record high this year.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
Stubble burning emissions in the second week of November have hit a record high this year.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Nov 13, 2021 06:31 PM IST
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Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Taking cognisance of the extreme pollution in Delhi wherein the air quality remains in the “severe” category, the Supreme Court on Saturday recommended ways to cut down pollution levels to both the Centre and the Delhi government. It also pulled up the central government over farm fires, highlighting that the machinery available for stubble management is too expensive for poor and marginalised farmers to purchase.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant suggested imposing a two-day lockdown in the national capital, saying that the air quality in the city is expected to drop even further in the next two to three days.

According to data collected from heat-sensing satellites by Hindustan Times, farm fire emissions in the second week of November have hit a record high this year. As many as 24,694 fire events occurred this year, beating the previous high recorded in the same period in 2016 with 16,931 incidents.

Also Read | ‘Don’t know why Centre is silent’: Gopal Rai on Delhi air pollution

On Saturday, the apex court also questioned the Delhi government over its decisions to install smog towers, and told the Centre at the same time that blaming the farmers has “become a fashion” when air pollution in the capital increases.

The matter has now been posted for Monday.

Here are top 10 quotes of the SC bench after today’s hearing:

1.     “Tell us how we can reduce AQI from 500 at least by 200 points. Take some urgent measures. Can you think of two days lockdown or something? How can people live? We will look at a long-term solution later.”

2.     “You have to look at this issue beyond politics and government. Something must happen so that in two to three days we feel better.”

3.     On Delhi government’s decision to install smog towers, the bench asked, “This is not the Centre's but your jurisdiction. What is happening on that front?”

4.     “Be the petitioners, the Delhi government or anybody else -- it has become a fashion to blame the farmers. Have you seen how crackers are being burnt in Delhi for the last seven days? What was the Delhi police doing?”

5.     “You are saying two lakh machines are available, but the poor farmers cannot afford these machines. After the agrarian laws, the landholding in UP, Punjab and Haryana are less than 3 acres. We can't expect those farmers to purchase those machines.”

6. “Why can't the Centre and the state governments provide the machines. Take away the stubble for use in paper mills and various other purposes. In winters the stubble can be used for fodder for goats, etc. in Rajasthan.”

7.     After Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the Centre is providing machinery at 80 per cent subsidised rate, the bench asked, “Can the farmer afford it. I am a farmer and I know it, the CJI is also from a farmer family he also knows it.”

8.     “Problem is of incentivisation. If you are not giving incentives to farmers for alternatives then things cannot change. Enforcement cannot happen just like that.”

9.     “How do we ensure that stubble is removed, in time and taken to thermal power plant and then economic remuneration to farmers?”

10. “Schools have been opened now and little children are on the roads and we are exposing them to this. [AIIMS director] Dr [Randeep] Guleria said we are exposing them to pollution, pandemic and dengue.”

(With inputs from PTI and Bar and Bench)

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Saturday, May 28, 2022