A third-year law student, Aman Banka, and a class 12th student, Aditya Dubey, have filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking a direction upon the state governments of Punjab and Haryana to ensure a complete ban on stubble burning in their respective states.
The petition sought a direction to the states to fix a ceiling on the rental of stubble removing machines during the period between September 2020 and January 2021 and also demanded the states to pay the amount spent by all small and marginal farmers on renting the stubble removal machines. The “right to breathe” clean air is an integral part of the fundamental ‘right to life’ enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India and the said fundamental right is being violated due to the failure of the union and the state governments to keep the air pollution levels in Delhi NCR below hazardous levels every year during the period between September and January, the plea said.
As per the Central Pollution Control Board, stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana contributes to almost 40-50% of air pollution in Delhi. The stubble fires in these two states are a direct result of the inability of the small and marginal farmers to purchase or rent out stubble removal machines due to financial incapacity, which leaves them with no option but to burn the plant residue in their fields to clear it for next sowing season, the plea said. Due to the limited time period between the harvesting and sowing season, the small and marginal farmers do not have the time to manually remove the stubble and thus, are forced to burn the same, petitioners told the SC.