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The Supreme Court today issued a slew of directions in an attempt to tackle the worrying levels of air pollution in Delhi NCR and other parts of North India.
The Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta took note of the hazardous condition, particularly in Delhi and imposed a complete ban on stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana as well as the adjacent areas in Western Uttar Pradesh.
The Court has put the responsibility on the local administration as well as the chief secretaries of these States to ensure that not even a single instance of stubble burning takes place. The Court, in fact, went ahead to hold that the entire police machinery and local administration will be held liable in case any instance of crop burning is reported hereon forward.
The Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh are directed to be present in Court on Wednesday, November 6 to explain to the Court as to why the authorities failed in curbing instances of crop burning. The Court observed that stubble burning is a tort and the States are liable under tort law. Therefore, a question is posed by the Court as to why these States should not be made to pay compensation on the principle of polluter pays.
Further, all construction and demolition activities in Delhi NCR are directed to be stopped completely and the responsibility to ensure the same is put on local administration which will be fined to the tune of Rs 1 lakh in case of violation.
The government of Delhi is also directed to take assistance from the EPCA to deal with the issue of waste management and garbage burning which is also a contributing factor in the pollution crisis.
The EPCA, the Court said, is to consider whether restrictions need to be imposed on the entry of diesel vehicles in Delhi NCR. To curtail pollution by diesel emissions, the Court has said that no diesel generators must be used in the region and has directed States of Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan to ensure there are no power cuts.
Coal-based industries are directed to stop all activity for the time being till further orders and the Delhi local administration is directed to take steps such as water sprinkling to ensure dust settlement.
A high powered committee is to be formed by State governments of UP, Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan to discuss the crisis and steps that can be taken to tackle the same. The report of this meeting is to be submitted to the Court on Wednesday.
The Court will hear the case again on Wednesday, November 6.