Government inaction against air pollution ‘genocide’: HC
New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) Each year 10,500 people living in Delhi die of chronic respiratory related diseases, the Delhi High Court said on Thursday, describing the government’s inaction against air pollution as amounting to “genocide”.
A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Ashutosh Kumar, which expressed concern over the recent spike in pollution level in national capital, blamed the Punjab government for failing to control stubble burning despite the court’s repeated orders.
“Bursting of fire crackers during Diwali is a small part of the problem. The satellite image from NASA submitted by DPCC (Delhi Pollution Control Committee) clearly indicates that crop burning in Punjab is the main culprit for spike in pollution level.
“Unfortunately, Punjab is in denial mode and contest any allegation that it is responsible for any pollution Delhi. But the facts are clear,” the bench said directing the state’s Chief Secretary to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him.
The court asked the state to file a status report on the measures it has taken to stop bio mass or stubble burning.
Earlier, it has directed the top officials of four neighbouring states – Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan – to ensure a stop in the state to crop stubble burning, which spikes air pollution in Delhi every year during October-November.
Going through the reports submitted by Haryana and Rajasthan, the bench said these states are moving in right direction. “There is nothing significant contribution (from stubble burning) from these states (to Delhi).”
Haryana has taken steps to curb stubble burning like to training farmers, employing new tools for cutting crops, recycling the biomass and using it for power generation, the state told the court.
The court asked Punjab how it would apologise to the people who have lost their lives and to those lakhs of people in Delhi and Haryana who continue to suffer from respiratory diseases because of air pollution caused by stubble burning.
“Punjab (stubble burning) is killing us,” said the bench.
The court said as per a study air pollution had reduced the life expectancy by 3.2 years. “The inaction of government is the culprit for shortening of life,” bench said.
“As per a report, life expectancy would be 3.2 years less than what it ought to be. Assuming that population of Delhi is 20 million, it would mean that approximately 60 million life year are robbed from people of Delhi,” it said, adding: “This is genocide.”
Referring a report, the court said according to WHO estimates showed 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world were in India, including the worst-ranked city, Delhi. India has the highest rate of death caused by chronic respiratory diseases anywhere in the world, “Isn’t murder?” it asked.
The court said governments are concerned only with vote banks and not with human lives.
The court now posted for November 18, a public interest litigation initiated by it on the issue of air pollution in the national capital.