Delhi takes action on air pollution amidst a health crisis

Air Quality app by Plume Labs

Air Quality app by Plume Labs

They had been shut due to pollution.

While both provincial and federal governments have taken steps, including limiting private vehicles usage and shuttering factories, they have been unable to stop farmers from burning crop stubble - smoke from which is the main reason for air becoming a lethal cocktail at this time of the year. The court gave the states seven days to purchase the stubble. A furious Supreme Court minced no words on Wednesday as it came down heavily on the chief secretaries, (the highest bureaucratic post at the state level) of the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for failing to prevent stubble burning in their respective states. "Agriculture is the backbone of the country's economy and it's bounden duty of the state to look after the interest of farmers", the apex court ordered, urging the three states to prepare a comprehensive scheme to take care of environmental issues within three months. Only poor farmers should be penalised while the government is not made accountable? The court also reprimanded authorities in the Punjab and Haryana regions for allowing the illegal practice to continue.

Justice Arun Mishra, who was hearing the case with Justice Deepak Gupta said that "Flights have been diverted".

Every winter, the city is blanketed by a poisonous smog of auto fumes, industrial emissions and smoke from stubble burning at farms in neighboring states. 44 percent respondents were having pollution related health problems but have not visited a doctor or hospital yet while only 14 percent of people said they haven't felt any impact of pollution on health.

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"What's the point of having all these developments if even stubble burning can't be stopped", it added.

In a statement, the Noida Authority said penalties amounting to Rs 5.05 lakh were imposed on those found keeping construction material uncovered, in violation of the law.

The court also asked the three states to formulate a plan to purchase stubble, ensure it is not burnt anymore, and make the entire state administration responsible to combat air pollution. The Attorney General later clarified that the suggestion was not discussed with officers and he was making "a practical submission".

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