The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said that while stubble-burning is the “visible villain” behind severe air pollution, there are other contributory factors to the “grave” environmental situation in the national capital. A Division Bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said the pollution this time had become “worst” and it affects each one of us. “Stubble-burning becomes the visible villain but there are other factors too — road dust, construction debris, and vehicular and industrial pollution.” The court said the situation is “grave” as we have advisories against morning walks, and against sending children to school.

Hearing a public interest litigation initiated by it in 2015 on the issue of poor air quality in Delhi, the court asked Delhi and other neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan about the steps taken by them to prevent stubble-burning in their respective jurisdictions. The bench also asked the Delhi government to file a response on preventive steps taken to redress the problem of dust. The court said as an end to stubble-burning will take time, the governments should try to enforce regulations to lessen generation of construction dust, which can be done easily.

Senior advocate Kailash Vasdev, amicus curiae in the case, told the court that the government has not been implementing its orders and the court should initiate action against the officials concerned. The central government, through advocate Ajay Digpaul, told the court that the Environment and Forest Ministry had held meetings with all stakeholders and the issue of stubble-burning was reviewed. In response, Vasdev said the government is only holding meetings and giving suggestions but did nothing in two years. The court posted the matter for November 13.