The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the suggestion of attorney-general K.K. Venugopal that farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh be allowed to burn stubbles at notified zones on specific dates.
The court said the authorities must introduce modern machines to eliminate stubbles instead of manually burning them, a practice that has been largely blamed for the rising pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta warned the Punjab chief secretary that he would be suspended and officials from “top to bottom” in the three states would be hauled up for failing to curb stubble burning.
Venugopal, who was representing the Centre, suggested that the three states be permitted to burn stubble at notified zones on specific dates. “If your lordship bans the burning, it affects the farmers,” the AG said.
Justice Mishra observed: “Burning is not going to be the solution. Why isn’t the government giving a solution? If stubble burning is not good, it’s not good, why just stubble burning be allowed?”
Venugopal said farmers could not be asked to compromise on their livelihood.
Justice Mishra shot back: “Why is the government not giving any other solution? Stubble burning is bad. The attorney in a democratic country cannot give suggestions like this. Why can’t the Centre or the states come up with a solution? It’s your responsibility, panchayat’s responsibility.
“Pollution is pollution. It is bad for everybody. How can you say there is no solution? We expect a little more from the responsible democratic government of the day. We are not accepting your suggestion.”