The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday asked the Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh governments to take immediate steps to prevent crop residue burning, which is contributing to a rise in pollution levels, PTI reported. The air quality in Delhi fell to the “severe” category for the first time this season on Tuesday.

National Green Tribunal chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel ordered the states to help financially weak farmers by providing them with access to machinery instead and suggested that industries help through their corporate social responsibility programmes.

The green panel was hearing the matter after taking note of a report in The Indian Express that claimed crop burning that led to a significant spike in air pollution levels. The tribunal had asked the Ministry of Agriculture to submit a report on providing infrastructural assistance to farmers and to include suggestions from authorities concerned on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee banned construction activities. The authority ordered a suspension in operations for industries using coal and biomass as fuel between November 1 and 10.

The Environment Pollution Control Authority also threatened to prohibit private vehicles from plying in Delhi from November 1 if the air quality gets worse. But the Graded Response Action Plan, put in place last year on the directions of the Supreme Court after high pollution levels in 2016, does not include a provision to ban all private vehicles in the city.

In November 2017, a toxic smog enveloped the National Capital Region leaving the governments scrambling to bring in measures in the eleventh hour to bring down pollution levels. Crop burning in states around the National Capital Region was one of the factors blamed.

In December 2017, the National Green Tribunal had criticised the Punjab government for not taking effective steps to curb stubble burning in the state. Schools and colleges were closed for a week. Pollution had risen to dangerous levels in 2016 as well.