The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the Punjab and Haryana governments to stop stubble burning in order to ensure better air quality during the next winter, Live Law reported.

A two-judge bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a batch of pleas seeking steps to control air pollution in Delhi.

Air quality plunges in the winter months in Delhi, which is often ranked the world’s most polluted capital. Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, along with falling temperatures, low wind speed and emissions from industries and coal-fired plants contribute to air pollution in the region.

On Wednesday, the court took note of an affidavit by the Punjab government that said that 53% of penalties imposed on farmers for burning crop residue have been recovered, PTI reported. The Punjab government also told the court that farm fires between September 15 and November 20 have reduced this year as compared to 2020.

To this, the court said: “The point is still that the farm fires are significant, and all this must stop.”

The court noted that several meetings of a committee headed by the Union cabinet secretary have taken place, and that the panel has prepared action plans for states, including Punjab and Haryana. The bench told the state governments to implement the action plans and submit progress reports within two months.

“Let us at least make an endeavour for the next winter to be a little better,” the court

The bench observed that air pollution is a subject that needs continuous monitoring.

“What happens is that when the problem arises, we suddenly take it up,” Justice Kaul said. “The court must monitor it for some time.”

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