Millennium Post

Crop burning: Green tribunal asks states on steps taken to mitigate the problem

With rising pollution level and smog over Delhi and adjoining areas, the National Green Tribunal on Friday pointed to large scale burning of crop stubble in northern states as shown in satellite pictures, asking the states to comply with its earlier order in the matter.

The NGT directed these states including Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to file affidavits detailing steps taken by them to implement its order asking state governments to take coercive and punitive action against persistent defaulters of agricultural waste burning.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said joint affidavits should be filed by secretaries of agriculture and environment of the states on personal verification, which should also mention the steps taken and future action plans, besides incentives given to farmers in return of crop residue taken from them for alternate purposes.

The details should also include number of equipments purchased by states to dispose agriculture residue from the fields, number of challans issued to defaulter farmers, the amount recovered from them, steps taken on media advertisements to educate farmers on the issue, the tribunal order and other relevant factors, the green panel said.

“In the event of non-filing of affidavit, the concerned secretary be present before the tribunal on December 2, the next date of hearing,” it said.

The tribunal noted the submission of the counsel for the complainant that as per NASA images, there is large scale crop residue burning in several states, particularly in Punjab.

During the hearing, advocate Naginder Benipal, appearing for Punjab, told the bench that the secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forest has convened a meeting of UP, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana on November 3 to decide on the issue.

When the bench said none of the states have filed their affidavits, Punjab’s counsel said he has filed it giving details of steps taken by them, future course of action and also seeking the Centre’s aid which has not been given yet.

“We have issued challans to the defaulters and also educated the farmers through print and electronic media and gram panchayats,” Benipal said. Punjab claimed in its affidavit that the state was making continued efforts to curb the practice of straw burning there.

“Change of practices by farmers is a slow process and needs a continuous and long drawn plan particularly keeping their educational and financial conditions in mind. Technology for the management of paddy straw has been developed but it needs continuous refinement,” it said.
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