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'Cattle Dying a Big Issue But People Dying Isn't?' SC Pulls Up Punjab Chief Secy Over Stubble Burning

The Supreme Court also rejected the suggestion of allowing stubble burning on certain conditions.


Updated:November 6, 2019, 5:51 PM IST
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'Cattle Dying a Big Issue But People Dying Isn't?' SC Pulls Up Punjab Chief Secy Over Stubble Burning
News18 Creative by Mir Suhail

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Punjab government and the state's chief secretary over unabated stubble burning leading that has led to plummeting air quality in neighbouring Delhi.

"It is a question of life and death for crores of people. They suffer from diseases such as asthma and cancer because of all this… We outright reject the suggestion of allowing stubble burning on certain conditions," it said.

"Can you permit people to die like this due to pollution? Can you permit the country to go back by 100 years," observed a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra. "We have to make government responsible for this. Why can't govt machinery stop stubble burning?"

Coming down heavily on state governments, the top court said if they do not bother about people, they have no right to be in power.

"You (states) have forgotten the concept of welfare government. They are not bothered about poor people, this is very unfortunate," said the bench, also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta, also questioning why the state governments cannot collect and purchase stubble from farmers.

The court said governments needs to be sensitive to the plight of people suffering from pollution, adding that incentives and machineries should be provided to farmers to discourage stubble burning. "What's the point of having all these developments if even stubble burning can't be stopped?" the court said.

"We expect more from the democratic government of the country to deal with the issue of stubble burning and curb pollution," the bench said.

The Attorney General replied that it’s not possible to control 2,00,000 farmers who will continue violating the rules, to which the SC said it was time to make chief secretaries accountable. “Time has come to punish chief secretaries now. Punjab chief secretary must be hauled up. Why should only poor farmers be punished? We will punish people at the top,” it said.

“Why are you the chief secretary if you can't protect people’s life? Let the central government rule the entire country if you say you can't do anything and everything has to be done by the central government,” the court added.

Noting that people dying isn’t given as serious attention as cattle deaths, the court said punishing farmers is not the solution either. “Punishing farmers isn't a solution. States will instead have law and order problems if you do this. Make them aware, sensitise them and give them incentives,” the court told Punjab government.

(With inputs from PTI)

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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