Pro­duce farm­ers you helped to curb paddy burn­ing, says NGT

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Metro - Htre­porters@hin­dus­tan­

The Na­tional Green Tri­bunal on Wed­nes­day asked the Pun­jab gov­ern­ment to pro­duce be­fore it 21 farm­ers whom it claimed to have helped by giv­ing in­cen­tives and in­fras­truc­tural fa­cil­i­ties to pre­vent them from burn­ing crop stub­ble in a bid to check air pol­lu­tion.

Agri­cul­tural stub­ble — mil­lions of tonnes — is burnt by farm­ers in north­ern In­dia ev­ery Oc­to­ber, trig­ger­ing heavy pol­lu­tion in Delhi-NCR be­fore the on­set of win­ter.

Though the NGT banned crop burn­ing in 2015, im­ple­ment­ing the or­der had been dif­fi­cult. Farm­ers set crop residue afire mainly be­cause of cost con­cerns and the short gap be­tween sum­mer and win­ter crops. Lack of in­cen­tives and equip­ment to cut the stub­ble are other is­sues.

Over a hun­dred farm­ers had gath­ered out­side the NGT premises here on Wed­nes­day to at­tend the hear­ing on the is­sue and put forth their sub­mis­sions and griev­ances through a lawyer be­fore a bench headed by NGT chair­per­son jus­tice Swatan­ter Ku­mar.

The bench took ex­cep­tion to the fact that even af­ter more than two years, noth­ing sub­stan­tial has been done with re­gard to stub­ble burn­ing.

“For two years, we waited for you (Pun­jab) to com­ply with our di­rec­tion. We asked you to come up with an ac­tion plan for at least one dis­trict. What steps did you take in this re­gard?

“Can you pro­duce a sin­gle farmer in en­tire Pun­jab, whom you can pro­duce be­fore us and say that you have given him any kind of as­sis­tance? This is not a po­lit­i­cal is­sue but this is­sue re­lates to the en­vi­ron­ment. You should think as a hu­man be­ing why this is tak­ing so long,” the bench, also in­clud­ing Jus­tice RS Rathore, said.

It di­rected the Pun­jab gov­ern­ment to pro­duce the 21 farm­ers be­fore it on Oc­to­ber 13.

Dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings, ad­vo­cate IG Kapila, ap­pear­ing for the farm­ers, re­ferred to a news­pa­per re­port and said the Na­tional Ther­mal Power Cor­po­ra­tion (NTPC) and a few biomass power units have ex­pressed their in­tent to pur­chase crop residue from farm­ers in sur­round­ing states.

He said the NTPC and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of other com­pa­nies were will­ing to cut and buy crop residue from the fields.

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