The Haryana government on Saturday said that it had registered 1,406 cases against those violating stubble burning (the burning of the straw left behind after the harvest of wheat and other crops) and had received Rs 13.75 lakh as fines, PTI reported. This came a day after the National Green Tribunal had asked the environment secretaries of the four states of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan to submit a report on the burning of agricultural residues.
Principal Secretary for the state’s Environment Department Shrikant Walgad said cases against the violators were registered under the Environment Pollution Act and were tried at environment courts in Kurukshetra and Faridabad. Walgad said state authorities had also directed district committees to monitor the incidents of residue burning through satellite images and submit daily reports. On Friday, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had told the state Assembly that the government was committed to tackling the problem of pollution caused by stubble burning.
Meanwhile, around 1,800 primary schools in New Delhi were asked to remain closed on Saturday because of rising pollution level, NDTV reported. Data from the city’s pollution monitors showed that the concentration of particulate matter was over 1,200 micrograms per cubic metre on Saturday morning, almost 12 times higher than the safe level of 100 micrograms. The spokesperson of Delhi's civic body, Yogendra Mann, said schools would function normally from Monday.
Air pollution in the national Capital rose to extremely hazardous levels post Diwali. On Thursday, the Centre for Science and Environment had said that Delhi is facing the worst smog in 17 years. The advocacy organisation said levels of PM2.5 (particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter) increased by 62.7% on November 2 compared with that on October 30.
Earlier, the Union Environment Ministry had directed states around Delhi to enforce a ban on stubble burning. The ministry had also asked municipal bodies in Delhi to prevent the open burning of solid waste. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday had said the government would soon initiate measures to curb the rising pollution. However, the government did not specify any deadline for these measures.