Delhi pollution: SC raps ones 'sitting in ivory tower'

Supreme Court in New Delhi (PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the Union government and the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for failing to stop stubble burning which pushed the air quality in Delhi and other regions to toxic levels.

The court pulled up top officers of the states for "sitting in an ivory tower and letting people die" by allowing "an organised sin".

"Why did you not prepare and take steps in advance? Does the state have no role in democracy? We will not spare a single officer. You knew of this threat... what steps have you taken," a furious bench of justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta asked the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The court also pulled up the Delhi government for not taking adequate steps for garbage management.

Dealing with the case of 'Alarming rise in Air Pollution in Delhi and adjoining areas', the court rejected outright a plea by Attorney General K K Venugopal to let farmers burn stubble in a phased manner as it would otherwise create law and order problem.

The court questioned state officials over their failure to provide support to farmers, who resorted to stubble burning to do away with crop residue. "We are going back to 100 years. It is total chaos," the bench said.

“People are dying, flights are being diverted... Are you proud of your achievement," the bench asked the officers.

Passing a slew of directions in over two and a half hours of hearing well past its usual time of 4 pm, the court directed the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to provide support of Rs 100 per quintal within seven days to small and marginal farmers who have not burned stubble.

It said agriculture was the backbone of the country's economy and it was the bounden duty of the state to look after the interests of farmers.

The court also said it was absolutely necessary that the farmers were provided machines to prevent stubble burning.

The court told the Centre and the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to prepare a comprehensive scheme within three months to take care of environmental issues.

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