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New Delhi, Nov 11: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre and states to take long-term measures to improve the air quality in Delhi-NCR region.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sudhanshu Dhulia and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said it cannot allow people to suffer from pollution.

The bench emphasised that it wanted farm fires (stubble burning) to be stopped and measures be taken to replace rice as the dominant crop in Punjab. The option of replacing rice with more crops should be explored.

Justice Kaul, who was presiding over the bench, noted the overnight rains in the capital and adjoining areas, saying, “God heard people’s prayers and intervened’.

The bench told Attorney General R Venkataramani and lawyers representing various state governments that government officials are holding meetings, but nothing is happening on the ground in the wake of air pollution in the capital.

“Why do things move forward only when the court intervenes,” the bench wondered. Regarding overnight rains in Delhi and adjoining areas, the court said, “People only have to pray, sometimes the wind comes and help, and sometimes it rains’.

The apex court said that filing a case in case of a farm fire is not a solution. The way should be financial relief which includes some incentive.

On the contrary, the bench also suggested that anyone who is involved in setting fire to the field should not get the minimum support price (MSP) next year.

Referring to the declining water level in Punjab, the bench once again stressed on the gradual reduction of paddy cultivation in the state.

“Something like this has to be done as a remedial measure… Or their property should be attached for one year. “

At the same time the court also said that it will leave it to the discretion of the governments, otherwise they will say that the apex court has ordered the attachment.

If the governments want, be it the Centre or the states, it will happen,” the bench told the Attorney General. If you’re indifferent about it, it won’t happen.