NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday slammed Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh government for failing to curb stubble burning and also came down heavily on the Central government for not taking concrete steps to improve the deteriorating air quality in the national capital.
The apex court was hearing a matter concerning air pollution in Delhi, its adjoining areas and other parts of northern India. For this purpose, it had summoned chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi.
Pulling up the Central government for inaction, a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said, "Why are people being forced to live in a gas chamber? It is better to kill them all in one go. Get explosives in 15 bags at one go."
The AQI on Monday in the national capital docked at 218, which falls in the 'poor' category.
The court directed Centre and Delhi government to keep their differences aside and finalize plans within 10 days for setting up air-purifying towers in different parts of the city.
"People are laughing at our country that we cannot even control stubble burning. The blame game is not serving the people of Delhi. You people will play the blame game, not taking it (pollution crisis) seriously," it observed.
Justice Arun Mishra further said that Delhi is "worse than hell". "Life is not so cheap in India and you will have to pay. You have no right to be in the chair," he said.
The bench asked the Punjab chief secretary about the steps taken by it to prevent stubble burning.
"How can you treat people like this and let them die. Tell us why stubble burning increased after our order. Why are you not able to check stubble burning? Is it not a failure?"
It observed that just because the state is not able to implement measures, does not mean people in Delhi should die and suffer from cancer.
"Mr. Chief Secretary (Punjab), we will hold every machinery in the state responsible. You can't let people die like this. Delhi is near suffocating,' the bench said.
The apex court also reprimanded the Haryana government and asked why it is not doing anything to control the stubble burning. "You (Haryana government) had done a good job earlier in controlling stubble burning, but now it has increased. Punjab and Haryana are not doing anything."
Justice Mishra came down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary and said that the court will not spare anyone responsible for the stubble burning.
"Stubble burning has increased, why should we not penalize you and your machinery? We are not going to spare you now. Everybody should know we are not going to spare anyone of you."
The state chief secretary told the court that around 1,000 FIRs have been filed against stubble burning and a fine of Rs 1 crore has been imposed.
On these contentions, the apex court asked the chief secretary to not take coercive ones but positive ones.