Stubble Burning in Punjab: Delhi HC Issues Notice to Centre on a Plea Filed by Noted Environmental Lawyer Sudhir Mishra

Mr Mishra moved an application in the ongoing PIL case for issuing directions to the respondents for implementing effective measures to curb stubble burning.(Sudhir Mishra v. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare & Ors).

Delhi HC issues notice to Centre to stop stubble burning in Punjab

A Divison Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan sought the response from all the respondents including the Union Health Ministry, neighbouring States and Central Pollution Control Board and others. 

One of the most prominent environmental lawyers Mr Sudhir Mishra through advocates Petal Chandhok and Ritwika Nanda filed an application for issuing directions to the respondents.

Mr Mishra asked the Court to send expert teams to the three States for implementing effective measures to curb stubble burning. The application has been moved in an ongoing 2015 matter related to air pollution. Mr Mishra's main contention is that stubble burning may make the residents of the national capital more susceptible to the coronavirus.

Senior Advocate Arvind Nayar, representing Mr Mishra argued that stubble burning will lead to a massive increase in the number of emergency cases in the current situation of widespread COVID-19.

"The deadly virus, which has already claimed the lives of over 92,000 citizens, attacks the respiratory organs and immune system of the human body", he added.

Stubble burning has already started in parts of Punjab claims Mr Mishra

Mr Mishra highlighted the fact that the stubble burning has already begun in parts of Punjab in his plea before the Court. He pointed out that there has been a mammoth rise of 6 per cent in incidents of stubble burning in the last one week. He relied on certain findings that clearly show a direct connection between the spike in coronavirus cases owing to increased levels of air pollution.

Coordination is needed to stop farmers in neighbouring states

Mr Mishra states that since air quality is a public good, coordination is needed to stop farmers in neighbouring states from burning the crop residue

"Since air quality is a public good, central coordination to tackle the problem becomes even more important, implying that the government of the three states would need to come together and take immediate actions to stop farmers from burning the crop residue. Broadly, the Chief Ministers of Delhi, Punjab, and Haryana have to act expeditiously before the health of citizens of NCT of Delhi fall in the state enhanced emergency," the plea said.

Mr Sudhir Mishra welcomes the sensitivity of judiciary in environmental matters

The noted environmental lawyer appreciated judiciary's sensitivity in critical environmental matters.

"The issuance of notice in such a vital matter shows the sensitivity of our judiciary which always intervenes in critical environmental matters," says, Mr  Mishra.  

It is pertinent to note that stubble burning has significantly reduced the air quality in Delhi and its adjoining areas in recent years. The COVID health crisis has further aggravated the issue. This case could potentially carve the road ahead for finding solutions to the grave problem.

The matter is listed for further hearing on October 22.

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