The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government over its failure to allocate funds for the Regional Rapid Transit System corridors to Alwar and Panipat. The mass transit system is projected to reduce vehicular pollution in the National Capital Region, Live Law reported.
A bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and S Dhulia noted that the government had failed to contribute any funds for the project despite giving an undertaking in July. Calling this a “gross breach” of assurances, the court directed that the money be transferred from the Delhi government’s advertising budget, if it did not comply within a week.
The bench in April had told the Arvind Kerjiwal-led government to pay Rs 415 crores for the rapid rail, Live Law reported.
“The [government’s] advertising funds for the last three years had been called for,” Bar and Bench quoted the court as saying. “It was Rs 1,100 crores for the last three years and Rs 550 crores for this year.”
Miffed that “national projects” are being affected while the government spends its money on publicity, the bench said in its order, “We have thus little option but to direct that funds allocated for advertisement purposes be transferred to the project in question.”
At Tuesday’s hearing, the judges also chided the AAP-led Punjab government for inaction against stubble burning, which led to a recent deterioration of air quality in Delhi. Pollution levels in the city breached the “severe” threshold on at least eight days this month, according to the Central Pollution Control Board’s daily air quality index bulletin.
The court also remarked that Punjab’s farmers are being vilified over poor management of crop residue. Every year, emissions from the burning of leftover paddy straw are blown into Delhi on the backs of slow moving, easterly winds. This November has been the city’s most polluted in six years, NDTV quoted the court as saying.
The Advocate General of Punjab Gurminder Singh told the Supreme Court that 984 first information reports have been lodged against stubble burning in the state, reported Bar and Bench. Out of 20,000 crop fire incidents, the authorities have imposed fines in only 6,000 cases, proceedings revealed.
The judges pointed out that the state must completely subsidise crop residue management and “take a cue from the state of Haryana [with regard to] the manner in which financial incentives are given.”
“To burn [stubble], all the farmer needs to do is light a matchstick,” the Supreme Court observed, the Hindustan Times reported. “Machine for the management of crop residue to farmers is not everything. Even if the machine is given for free, there is diesel cost, manpower, etc.”