Opinion | Some relief at last from scorched earth tactics2 min read 04 Nov 2019, 11:11 PM IST
Since state administrations failed to contain the noxious smoke of farmland stubble fires in north India, the Supreme Court has had to order a crackdown. Here’s what else we could do
There was hope for the residents of a broad expanse of north India, who faced a public health emergency due to air pollution, a significant part of which was caused by smoke arising from the burning of crop stubble—stalks of paddy, mostly, left after the kharif harvest—in Haryana, Punjab and parts of Uttar Pradesh. On Monday, the Supreme Court slammed authorities for failing to take effective steps to stop the annual menace, and has summoned the chief secretaries of the three states to explain why it could not be stopped. It also ordered the suspension of all construction activity in the National Capital Region, imposed a ₹1 lakh fine on violators, and warned that all state officials—from the chief secretary to gram panchayat office-bearers—will be prosecuted for contempt of court if even a single incident of stubble-burning takes place. Taking serious note of the situation, the apex court said that people have been left to die. It also expressed reservations over the efficacy of local measures such as Delhi’s odd-even scheme, which aims to reduce exhaust fumes by keeping half of all private vehicles off the capital’s streets.