26 Oct 2020
Centre assures law on stubble burning, SC stays one-man panel
The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it would bring a legislation on stubble burning, one of the main drivers of the hazardous air pollution in North India.
Accepting the Centre's request, the top court agreed to temporarily suspend the one-man panel, which was tasked with checking the menace.
The panel was to be headed by retired SC judge Madan Lokur.
Just want residents to breathe fresh air, SC said earlier
On October 16, a bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde, and including AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian had asked retired Justice Lokur to look into the recurring problem.
"We are only concerned that citizens of Delhi/NCR are able to breathe fresh clean air," the CJI had said.
However, back then, the Centre had expressed "some reservations" over such a panel being formed.
Draft of proposed law will be submitted soon
Today, the Centre, through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, told it was mulling a law on air pollution, which would also deal with stubble burning.
The Centre took a "holistic approach" to the problem, Mehta said, adding that a draft of the proposed law will be submitted within four days.
"If the government wants to pass order quickly they will pass an ordinance," Mehta said.
A permanent body, that could replace EPCA, on cards
The Centre also told the court it would set up a permanent body to deal with this problem.
Citing government sources, NDTV reported that the new body might replace the existing Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), which is led by Ashoka Chakra-awardee Bhure Lal.
"We acknowledge the mechanism we have at present has not worked too well," Mehta reportedly said.
People are choking, welcome the decision: SC told Centre
Welcoming the Centre's stand on the matter, CJI Bobde said, "People are choking in the city. If you can do that (fix it), well and good."
Senior lawyer Vikas Singh, who appeared from the petitioner's side, raised no objection.
"We don't think anyone will be heard if we direct the status quo. Let's see what legislation they (Centre) have come forthwith," the bench said.
Earlier order to be kept in abeyance: SC
Accepting the Centre's request regarding the earlier order, CJI Bobde said, "Having regard to the statement of the SG in this regard, we consider it appropriate that the order of the court (of the constitution of a one-man panel) be kept in abeyance."
When Singh objected, he replied, "We think our own measure should be held in abeyance. What is your problem?"
It's not even November, Delhi's air already in "very-poor category"
The air pollution in Delhi/NCR deteriorated on Monday, with AQI being recorded at 343 at 10 am, reports India Today. The upcoming days are expected to be more damning.
This year, the problem has multiplied as experts opine the rising air pollution might increase coronavirus caseload and create problems for even the recovered ones.
Experts have called upon coronavirus survivors to get flu shots.