The growing menace of stubble burning in states like Haryana and Punjab, which is a major cause of air pollution in the national capital, today led the Delhi High Court to direct the government to ensure "zero burning" of bio-mass this year.
A bench of justices B D Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar expressed concern that farmers would again burn the residue of a harvesting season to sow the next crop after Diwali this year, causing air pollution in and around Delhi.
"We are very serious this time. We do not want to see the burning of bio-mass this year like the previous year," the bench said, while asking the Centre "why can't it stop such practices being adopted by the farmers".
"We want it to be zero burning this year. It should be stopped completely," the court said this on being informed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change that banning of stubble burning by states of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan has resulted 38.93 per cent reduction in stubble burning in Punjab and 20.3 per cent reduction in Haryana.
The bench observed that Delhi was already full of diseases and stubble burning would add to air pollution.
"We want you (Centre, Delhi government and other authorities concerned) to ensure that this time it does not happen," the bench said, adding that they should also find the reasons behind burning of stubble by the farmers.
The court's oral observation came during the hearing of a PIL initiated by it on the issue of air pollution in the national capital.
In November, farmers sow crops like wheat and vegetables. They often set fire to their fields to clear the field before planting new crops, which leads to the atmosphere turn blinding and suffocating as the smog engulfs the city.
During the hearing, the court also observed that the government should not only think of eliminating the burning of stubble but should also give an alternative to the farmers in this regard.
It said on September 22, all authorities concerned should come up with an answer to its query and inform it about the preventive steps they intend to take to tackle burning of stubble by farmers.