The government must pursue farmers against stubble burning, the Supreme Court said today as it stressed that it does not want to punish the farmers while Delhi and neighbouring cities see an escalating air quality crisis.
“We do not want to penalise the farmers. We have already asked the Centre to pursue and request those farmers to not burn stubble at least for a week,” Chief Justice NV Ramana said today.
“Debates on TV are causing more pollution than any other sources. Everyone has their own agenda there. We are trying to work out a solution here,” the Chief Justice added as the court saw the third day of hearing on air pollution since last week.
His sharp comments were in response to the back and forth between the Delhi government and the centre over the stubble burning data.
As the hearing began, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the centre, told the court he faced “nasty comments” over the data he presented in the court on Monday.
“We heard some nasty utterances on TV media about me that I misled the court by saying stubble burning is only contributing 4-7 per cent. We had said in our affidavit that some factors like stubble burning contribute more after October to pollution. It’s not throughout the year,” he told the court.
To this, Chief Justice Ramana replied, “These figures are not important for us. Unless the parties in the case are trying to divert the issue. We are concerned with lowering pollution. When you hold a public office you are bound to get such criticism. When conscience is clear there is no issue. Forget it.”
When the Delhi government’s lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi was about to quote the data from the central agency SAFAR, the Chief Justice said: “If you see today’s newspaper each paper has its own statistics.”
“Forget the politics… it is our duty to tell you that stubble burning is a cause. It varies from 0 to 58%, based on the month we are talking about. The Solicitor General may have taken a 4-month or six-month average,” Mr Singhvi stressed.
But Chief Justice Ramana delivered a sharp reprimand, “If you keep raising these other things like that then the main issue will not get resolved.”