The Supreme Court has sought the response from the Central government and others on a petition seeking directions to ban stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, which causes massive air pollution in the national capital in winters.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests as well as the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. Issue notice returnable on October 16, the Bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian said.
The apex court was hearing a plea filed by environmental activist and Class 12 student Aditya Dubey and law student Aman Banka, who sought directions to provide free of cost stubble removing machines to small and marginal farmers to check high particulate matters in the air.
“The “Right To Breathe” Clean Air is an integral part of the Fundamental ‘Right to Life’ enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India and the said fundamental right is being violated by the failure of the Union Government and the State Governments, to keep the air pollution levels in Delhi NCR below hazardous levels,” the PIL read.
It further added, “In the Year 2019, thousands of stubble fires were lit in Punjab and Haryana by farmers to clear their fields for next sowing season which filled the air in Delhi-NCR with Suspended Particulate Matter and resulted in the AQI levels in Delhi crossing 1000 and caused severe respirator ophthalmic and_ skin diseases amongst the citizens of Delhi-NCR and even resulted in the death of many citizens. This was a clear violation of the fundamental right to breathe of the citizens of Delhi-NCR.”
The petition contended that stubble burning contributes almost 40 per cent of air pollution in Delhi.
The PIL referred to a Harvard University study that air pollution may now be an important factor that aggravates a mild Covid-19 infection into an acute one