SC notice to Centre, others on plea to ban stubble burning

The Supreme Court October 6 sought response from the Centre and others on a plea 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 petition contended that stubble burning contributes almost 40 percent of air pollution in Delhi. The PIL referred to the Harvard University study that air pollution may now be an important factor that aggravates a mild Covid-19 infection into an acute one.

It also referred to a study of the Louisiana State University, which found that increased air pollution can offer a direct pathway for airborne transmission of Covid-19. Thus, any increase in the air pollution levels of Delhi-NCR this year while the Covid-19 pandemic is spiralling out of control, will exponentially increase the mortality rates due to Covid-19, comprising the respiratory system of the citizens, more so in case of senior citizens and children, the plea said.

The PIL contended that the consequences of allowing any stubble burning to take place amid the ongoing pandemic may be catastrophic. The petitioners have sought directions to state governments to stop stubble burning and also fix a ceiling on rental of stubble removing machines during September to January 2021.

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