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HC asks Delhi, neighbouring states to implement ban on burning of crop residue

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-09-2017 Shreya Agarwal

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Friday directed the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi to implement notifications and directions issued under the Air Pollution Act to ban burning of crop residues.

In response to alarming air pollution levels in the NCR (National Capital Region), the Delhi High Court had taken up the matter suo motu (on its own motion) in August this year.

The Court had then directed the identified States to file standardized affidavits addressing particulars like “steps towards education and awareness relating to ills of stubble burning, notifications issued (if any) to meet this end, the number of persons booked for stubble burning,” etc.

In the affidavits filed by the different states, it has been revealed that “14 million tonnes of paddy straw are burnt in Punjab alone.”

In response to these affidavits, the Court on Thursday also directed the states to submit weekly “reports of the prosecutions launched/ implementations for preventing burning of agricultural waste.”

Recognizing the need for companies and industries to comply with their corporate social responsibility towards curbing air pollution, the Court directed that orders must be issued to these entities - “including biomass plants, cement plants and power generation plants and public undertakings involved in the manufacturing of boards and rough paper” - to collect crop residue from fields of farmers by providing them money as consideration for lifting the agricultural residue.

Implementation of the above directions is to ensure financial independence of state governments from the Central government for preventing stubble burning- and consequential severe air pollution.

Satellite imagery is to be constantly updated by the Union of India for monitoring and marking the sites where agricultural waste is found to have been burnt, by “tracking the same on the satellite available for monitoring/studying the weather.”

Finally directing strict implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan issued in January this year, the Court posted the matter for further hearing on 16 October.

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