Govt to produce 30 farmers before NGT today; BKU defiant
CHANDIGARH/PATIALA : Even as the Punjab government is set to produce over 30 farmers before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) on Thursday asked the farmers either not to attend the meeting or depose against the ban on stubble burning.
The NGT had directed the Punjab government to produce before it 21 farmers, which it claimed to have helped by giving incentives and infrastructural facilities to prevent them from burning crop residue in a bid to check air pollution.
“The agriculture department will also update the court on the actions taken so far to manage paddy straw in Kallar-majri village in Nabha (Patiala),” an official spokesperson said here on Thursday. He said the detailed list of activities, which include installation of machines to farmers in the village, will also be provided to the court, the spokesperson said, adding that the equipment was already operational across 67 acres of land.
The BKU (Ugrahan), however, said farmers have no option except burning it unless financial incentive is offered. The farmers sought ₹200 per quintal as bonus or financial assistance as per the NGT 2015 order for stopping stubble burning, it said.
Despite ban, several farmers in Punjab and Haryana continue to burn paddy stubble immediately after crop harvesting in order to sow winter crop. The crop burning is leading to heavy pollution in the air and causing breathing problems.
As per estimates, nearly 20 million tonne of paddy straw is burnt in Punjab every year, which becomes a major reason for pollution.
“The Punjab government should help farmers by giving ₹200 per quintal or provide financial assistance on machinery, as per the NGT order, for the disposal of straw,” BKU (Ugrahan) chief Joginder Singh and general secretary Sukhdev Singh Khokrikalan said in a joint statement here.
“Farmers who are already debt-ridden are unable to bear the expenditure of ₹5,000 to ₹6,000 per acre as expenditure on disposing of residue through environment-friendly measures,” they said.
“No farmer of Kallar-majri village should turn up before the NGT as government did nothing except lip service. If some farmers are eager to attend the meeting, they must flag the issue that handling straw is not financially viable for farmers, who are already in deep financial crisis. Depose against ban on straw burning,” they said.
They also condemned the government’s action being taken against farmers who burn paddy stubble. “Rather than penalising the farmers, the state government should come out with providing financial assistance for farmers,” they said.
Acting tough against erring farmers, state authorities have penalised over 100 farmers.
The government spokesperson, however, lashed out at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the (BKU) and as other political and farmer outfits for trying to pressurise the beneficiary farmers from coming out in support of the government on the issue.