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In a recent development, the Supreme Court strongly criticized the Punjab government for the poor air quality in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR). The court emphasized that blaming farmers for this issue is unfair. This discussion arose during the court’s review of various petitions addressing the hazardous air quality in the national capital.

Highlighting a report from the Punjab government indicating over 8,000 meetings held with farmers to discourage burning paddy straws, the court expressed concern. The observation highlights that the court unfairly targets farmers, neglecting their viewpoints in the proceedings. There must be underlying reasons for their resorting to stubble burning.”

The court’s order recorded an increase in farm fires, with 984 cases filed against landowners for stubble burning. Additionally, an environmental compensation of over Rs 2 crores has been imposed, although only Rs 18 lakhs have been collected so far.

The Supreme Court urged the Punjab government to aim for a complete elimination of crop residue burning. It suggested following Haryana’s approach of providing financial incentives to farmers. The court also highlighted the depletion of the water table in Punjab, cautioning about the adverse effects on the land’s fertility and the overall ecosystem if this continues.

The court further urged the Attorney General to explore strategies to discourage the cultivation of paddy and promote the cultivation of alternative crops.

Meanwhile, the court also expressed concern about the Delhi government’s failure to allocate funds for the RRTS (Regional Rapid Transit System) project. It warned the government about potential consequences, even hinting at withholding the advertising budget until compliance.

Additionally, the court directed both the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh governments to submit reports on instances of open waste burning, stressing the need to address this environmental concern.

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