Alarming air pollution: SC directs Punjab, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan to immediately stop crop residue burning

Amid a spike in pollution levels in Delhi-NCR, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to ensure that crop residue burning was stopped “forthwith”.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia said Delhi can’t be made to go through this year after year.

“There cannot be a political battle every time,” the bench told the counsel representing the Punjab government.

The court also directed the Delhi government to ensure that municipal solid waste was not burnt in the open.

While hearing a matter pertaining to air pollution in the Delhi-NCR, the bench flagged issues like crop residue burning, vehicular pollution and burning of waste in the open.

It has posted the matter for further hearing on Friday.

Pollution levels in Delhi were recorded in the “very poor” category on Tuesday morning after five consecutive days of severe air quality.

The concentration of PM2.5 – fine particulate matter capable of penetrating deep into the respiratory system and triggering health problems – exceeded the government-prescribed safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre by seven to eight times in the capital.

It was 30 to 40 times the healthy limit of 15 micrograms per cubic metre set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Several cities in neighbouring Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have also reported hazardous air quality. Ghaziabad recorded an AQI of 338, Gurugram 364, Noida 348, Greater Noida 439 and Faridabad 382.

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