Pun­jab govt to pro­duce 30 farm­ers be­fore NGT to­day

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - News -

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.

: 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.

No farmer should turn up be­fore the NGT as the Pun­jab govt has just done lip ser­vice. If some farm­ers are ea­ger to at­tend the meet­ing, they must flag the is­sue that han­dling straw is not fi­nan­cially vi­able. BKU (UGRA­HAN) STATE­MENT

HT PHOTO

The govern­ment claimed to have helped 21 farm­ers by giv­ing in­cen­tives to pre­vent them from burn­ing crop residue.

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