Farmers burning stubble should be excluded from MSP benefit: Supreme Court on ways to curb air pollution

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The court had recently pulled up the governments of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, and UP, asking them to immediately stop stubble burning

Supreme Court today deliberated on steps that can be taken to reduce the air pollution by stubble burning in Punjab.

A bench of Justices SK Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia inter alia suggested that farmers who burn stubble could be excluded from the purview of the minimum support price (MSP) policy.

Court has suggested this as a part of a carrot-and-stick policy. It has further recommended to completely subsidize baling machines for poor farmers and financing their operating costs to convert stubble into a useful byproduct.

Earlier this month, Justice SK Kaul led bench had directed all stakeholders to proceed with steps suggested by cabinet secretaries.

In a plea seeking directions on the issue of stubble burning causing pollution in Delhi NCR, court was further informed that smog towers were not closed but were non-operational for a brief period due to change in weather.

In reference to the recent worsening of the condition in Delhi NCR, the Supreme Court has recently remarked that a huge number of taxis were found on Delhi roads, with only one passenger onboard.

On many taxis being registered from different states, the Delhi government was asked to consider disallowing them. "We would like to know whether there is any way of monitoring, especially during this time, if only taxis registered in Delhi are permitted to ply on roads, as an additional measure to control pollution," court said.

Recently, the Supreme Court had refused to interfere with the blanket ban imposed by it on production and sale of firecrackers including green crackers in the Delhi NCR region. Court had further told the Delhi Police that filing cases against people who burn firecrackers may not help in curbing sale of firecrackers.

In a similar petition, the Supreme Court had also refused to interfere with the ban imposed by the Delhi government on the storage, sale and use of all types of firecrackers. While doing so, the bench told petitioner BJP MP Manoj Tiwari to go to a state where it is allowed to burn crackers if he wished to do so. 

On October 30, 2023 he National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Bhopal has also emphasized strict compliance with the Supreme Court's directions and the principal bench of the tribunal regarding the regulation and restrictions on the use of firecrackers. The NGT emphasized that celebrations should not infringe upon the fundamental right to health under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Case Title: MC Mehta vs. Union of India & Ors