The Supreme Court on Monday suspended the appointment of a committee to monitor stubble burning, after the Centre gave an assurance that it will create a permanent body through legislation to battle air pollution in Delhi and its neighbouring states, Live Law reported.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde kept its order from October 16 “in abeyance”. The top court had appointed retired Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur as the head of the committee.
The court had also turned down the Centre’s request to reconsider the appointment of the committee.
Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta told the court that the law for stubble burning will be introduced in the form of an ordinance in three to four days. “The Centre has taken a holistic view of the matter and now a comprehensive law is being planned with a permanent body with the participation of neighbouring states,” he was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
“There can be a conflict of perception between our committee and what the Union Government is contemplating,” the top court noted. Bobde also referred to the Centre’s decision as a welcome step, according to NDTV.
On October 16, the court had ordered that all authorities in the states and the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority will report to Justice Lokur-led committee. It added that groups such as Bharat Scouts, National Cadet Corps, and Guides and National Service Scheme could be deployed to carry out physical surveillance of fields where stubble burning was likely to happen.
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The court also noted that Punjab and Haryana had taken adequate steps to control stubble burning but more preventive steps were needed to be put in place. The two states submitted that they had developed a mobile app that will help identify and notify the field where stubble burning took place.
The air quality of Delhi-NCR typically deteriorates in the winter. In November last year, the court had passed a slew of directions to check air pollution. The court had asked Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to formulate a plan to purchase stubble, ensure it is not burnt anymore, and make the entire state administration responsible to combat air pollution. It had also ordered the states to pay small and marginal farmers an incentive of Rs 100 per quintal to handle the residue of non-Basmati rice crops.
The top court had ordered the Delhi government to formulate an action plan within three weeks to tackle garbage dumping and road dust. It also gave the Centre three months to prepare a road map to protect the interests of farmers.