Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
News: The Supreme Court on Monday lashed out at the Punjab and Haryana governments for their inability to prevent pollution from stubble burning despite orders from the court, saying the smog from the fires had made Delhi a living hell.
Prelims and Mains focus: about delhi’s pollution and the impact of stubble burning, challenges to tackle it
Remarks of the judges:
A visibly agitated Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said toxic fumes washing over Delhi from stubble burnt in Punjab and Haryana is reminiscent of an internal war.
Using explosives to finish all is better than slow death from pollutants, Justice Mishra admonished the Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Haryana. “Should this be tolerated? Is this not worse than internal war? You better finish them all with explosives,” the court said.
Choking city Justice Mishra highlighted the plight of people living in DelhiNCR. They choke on polluted air day in and out.
“Delhi is worse than narak [hell]. The world is laughing at us. You are reducing the life span of people. Why are people being forced to live in gas chambers. Get explosive and kill them all in one go... How much should each person be paid for suffering air pollution?” Justice Mishra slammed the authorities.
Taking suo motu cognisance of allegations of water pollution in Delhi, the court said people have a right to get pure drinking water.
The Bench directed the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board to provide a status report on the impact of industries on pollution in Delhi.
The court expressed its keenness to explore the law of torts to fix liability on polluters and direct compensation to be payable to ordinary citizens.
The court issued notices to all the States for their responses on why they should not be made liable to pay compensation to people for not providing clean air and water. The Supreme Court also asked the Delhi government and the Centre to finalise a plan within 10 days for the setting up of air purifiers in the city.
What is suo motu cognisance?
It means on its own motion; is a Latin legal term. The term used where a government agency acts on its own cognizance, as in the Commission took suo motu control over the matter.
This term generally used in Indian legal parlance. A court takes suo moto action means it starts a legal process on its own.
In Indian law Article 32 of the Indian constitution, contains a tool which directly joins the public with the judiciary. A PIL may be introduced in a court of law by the court itself (suo motu) rather than the aggrieved party or another third party.
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB):
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), statutory organisation, was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
To promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution.
To improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.