On Friday, the Supreme Court appointed its former judge, Justice (Retd.) Madan B Lokur to act as the one-man monitoring committee and to take steps to prevent stubble burning in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna, and V. Ramasubramaniun while hearing a plea highlighting the issue of stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, said that the court is only concerned that the citizens of Delhi-NCR get to breathe clean and fresh air. Further, the court added that the new committee, which will monitor the stubble burning and take preventive steps, will get assistance from the chief secretaries of all states.
The present PIL was filed by two environmental activities who sought directions to ensure the implementation of a complete ban on stubble burning since, in the past few days, the air quality in Delhi has worsened as farmers in neighboring states burnt crop stubble to clear fields ahead of the winter sowing season. As of Thursday, the Air Quality Index was as high as 366 in some parts of Delhi.
“We have been made aware of steps by Punjab and Haryana for stopping stubble burning including the development of an app which can help in identification and notification of a particular field in which someone has burnt stubble. In spite of measures, reported an increase in stubble burning which will pollute the atmosphere of Delhi-NCR inevitably. We are not inclined to make an assessment of which measure has been effective or not,” stated the apex court bench.
Further, the court asked the heads of National Cadet Corps, National Service Scheme, and Bharat Scouts and Guides to put the young force at Justice Lokur’s disposal to help locate stubble burning in the three states and bring it to the notice of authorities to prevent the same.
Subsequently, while considering it appropriate for the Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh to enable the former judge of this court to devise additional means and methods for preventing the stubble burning, the bench stated “There needs to be some monitoring of stubble burning before it assumes unhealthy proportions. Accordingly, we find that the suggestion of a former Judge of this court is appointed to monitor the situation in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.”
“We accordingly accept the suggestion and appoint Justice Madan B Lokur, the former Supreme Court Judge to act as the one-man monitoring Committee to prevent stubble burning in the State,” it added.
The bench further asserted that the states shall provide adequate facilities to the committee for carrying out its job including secretarial assistance and transportation if necessary and added that the Committee will submit a report fortnightly or as and when required.
“The concerned state governments will provide secretarial, security, and financial facilities to this committee. The committee will submit its report to the Supreme Court in 15 days,” stated the bench.
The matter has been listed for the next hearing on October 26.