Stubble burning may attract 5-yrs in jail, Rs 1 cr fine

Regulations for stubble burning in the offing – Penalty may include 5 year jail term, Rs one crore fine

The new body mandated reminded Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar of the measures that are yet to be implemented to improve Delhi's air quality

Representative image. Credit: AFP Photo

The newly established Commission for Air Quality for Delhi NCR will establish a regulatory mechanism to control stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and pockets of west Uttar Pradesh as crop residue burning remains the most important source of air pollution in Delhi-National Capital region at the onset of winter.

The Commission would be having suitable legal and administrative authority to take up clean up measures to be undertaken in Delhi and adjoining states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Such measures would be taken in consultation with the state governments.

As a part of the clean up measures, a regulatory mechanism for stubble burning was being put in place for the first time, sources in the Union Environment Ministry told DH.

“The Commission shall be a statutory authority with appropriate powers, and charged with the duty of taking comprehensive measures to tackle air pollution on a war footing, with power to coordinate with relevant states and the central government and if necessary, issue directions to statutory authorities established under the laws,” sources said.

Any violation of the Commission’s order would attract a prison term of up to 5 years or a fine up to Rs one crore.

The national capital's air quality on Thursday inched closer to the "severe" category due to calm winds and a spike in farm fires. The Ministry of Earth Sciences' monitoring agency SAFAR said the share of stubble burning in Delhi's PM2.5 pollution was 36% - the maximum so far this season.

Delhi recorded a 24-hour average air quality index of 395. It was 297 on Wednesday, 312 on Tuesday, 353 on Monday, 349 on Sunday, 345 on Saturday and 366 on Friday. For comparison, good air quality is between 0-50 while satisfactory AQI is between 51 and 100. Anything above 400 comes under the severe category.

As the new body replaces the Supreme Court-mandated EPCA, its chairperson and former bureaucrat Bhure Lal and member Sunita Narain reminded Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar that taking actions to stop stubble burning and implementing a new parking policy in Delhi with steep charges for private vehicles were among the pending agenda that needed to be fulfilled to clean up Delhi air.