New Delhi: A day after voluntarily registering a fresh case in air pollution situation in and around the national capital region of Delhi, the Supreme Court on Wednesday gave a strong blow to the Centre and state governments and said nobody will be spared if rules and regulations on pollution control are violated.
In the afternoon hearing, Justice Arun Mishra who is heading the bench on the fumes case said, “Nobody will be spared if found violating rules and regulations…time to punish officials at the top.”
“Everyone knew this (stubble burning) would happen this year also. Why was the government not ready in advance and why were the machines not provided? It seems no steps were taken throughout the year,” he added, bashing the Punjab government for not taking sufficient measures in the stubble burning issue.
Coming down heavily on the negligence by Punjab Chief Secretary, Justice Mishra said, “You have miserably failed in your duty.”
“Why are you the chief secretary if you can’t protect life? Let the Central Govt rule the entire country if you say everything has to be done by them. You shouldn’t be in the chair,” he added.
Appearing on behalf of the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal had said that nearly 44 per cent of the polluting haze that has created a smoke blanket over North India comes from stubble burning.
Placing his arguments, the Attorney General said that Haryana and Punjab should be divided into zones and specific days should be allotted for stubble burning in each zone.
Venugopal argued it is not possible to completely ban stubble burning as it would adversely affect the farmers. “Farmers cannot be asked to compromise on their livelihood,” he said.
However, the court rejected his suggestions and said, “If stubble burning is the only way then this is the end.”
“Stubble burning has to be controlled and inability to do that will take the country back by 100 years,” the top court added, asserting the need to try out other organic means.