After a day of mass protest organized by the citizens of Delhi at India Gate where over 1500 people came on ground to raise their voice against the severe air pollution, Supreme Court and the Modi Government took action on the issue.
The action also came after Supreme Court lashed out at Centre and state governments for their inability to curb stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana and bring air pollution in Delhi under control.
PMO sets up a panel to monitor air pollution
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has set up a panel, headed by Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar, to monitor air pollution in Delhi and draw plans to mitigate the problem.
The panel includes Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) K Vijay Raghavan and Tarun Khanna of Harvard Business School, Economic Times reported. The panel also has Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar and major general Madhuri Kanitkar as members.
The panel will submit a report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in two weeks.
Supreme Court orders Centre to prepare a comprehensive national scheme
"Don't you feel ashamed that flights are being diverted and citizens are not safe even in their homes," the Supreme Court said.
The Supreme Court has ordered the Centre to prepare a comprehensive national scheme, in consultation with States, within three months to stop small and marginal farmers from practicing stubble burning, which has been identified as a major source of air pollution.
“Punishing poor farmers for burning stubble is not a solution,” Justice Arun Mishra, who led the Special Bench also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta, pointed out.
"We have to make governments responsible for this. We expect more from democratic governments of the country to deal with the issue of stubble burning and curb pollution," the court said.
SC orders Haryana, Punjab, UP governments to incentivize farmers
Supreme court also directed the Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh governments to provide an incentive of Rs 100 per quintal to the states' farmers in seven days.
It ordered States to distribute crop residue management tools and machines to small and marginal farmers free of cost. "The States need to use their own funds to finance the scheme," it said.
PM steps in to stop stubble burning
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed the Union agriculture ministry to give priority to farmers of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana when distributing equipment to prevent stubble burning.
There are agro machines available in the market which remove stubble and governments of Haryana and Punjab are offering a subsidy to farmers to buy the equipment.
The prime minister issued these directions at the meeting of Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation -- Pragati, an ICT-based multimedia platform, a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said.
Meanwhile, the Supreme court has also asked the Delhi government to submit an action plan to deal with issues of garbage dumping and burning, pock-marked roads and the state of traffic congestion in the capital city. The court gave the government three weeks to repair the pot-holes.
"A democratically-elected government cannot afford to not do anything. The elected government and administrative machinery cannot sit aloof in their ivory towers. The government cannot afford to fail the people," Justice Mishra said.