New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Friday said that still "serious" burning of crop residue by farmers is going on and sought the response of the Centre as well Punjab and Haryana governments on steps taken by them to check the practice so that air pollution can be curbed.
The green panel heard several farmers from Punjab and directed the state government to answer as to how it would provide proper machinery to them to address the problem.
The tribunal also directed the Punjab government to submit a list of power plants and any other industries which may use the crop residue.
It sought a reply from the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) as to why it cannot take crop residue from the farmers under its "corporate social responsibility" for the "general cause of environment".
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also sought a response from both the states on whether the burial of crop residue would benefit the soil in the long run.
The tribunal also asked why the government cannot develop a mechanism among the farmers itself so that they can solve such issues.
During the hearing, the NGT posed various questions before the farmers before passing the directions while over a hundred farmers gathered outside its premises.
The Punjab government today produced before the NGT 12 farmers it claimed to have helped by giving incentives and infrastructural facilities to prevent them from burning crop residue.
During the proceedings, advocate I G Kapila, appearing for the farmers, referred to various newspaper reports and said that the problem was serious. The NGT had on October 11 directed Punjab to produce the farmers after the state said that it had provided assistance to them to encourage them not to burn crop residue.
The tribunal had taken exception to the fact that even after more than two years, nothing substantial has been done with regard to stubble burning.
The Punjab government had earlier said that they have taken Kalar Majri village in Nabha Tehsil of Patiala district as a model project for implementing the directions of the NGT and to sensitise the farmers.
Earlier, the green panel had asked the state government to look into the problems faced by the farmers and directed its counsel to seek instructions on whether compensation could be provided to them for disposing their agricultural residue while giving them liberty to engage any agency of their choice.
It had warned the governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan that it would stop the payment of salaries of government officials if they failed to come up with an action plan to prevent stubble burning, which triggers heavy pollution in Delhi-NCR.