The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday rapped the Punjab government for not taking adequate measures to provide infrastructural assistance and incentives to the farmers of the state to prevent them from burning crop residue. According to a report by Indian Express, the NGT panel directed the state government to look into the issues faced by farmers and asked its counsel to seek instructions on whether compensation could be provided to these farmers for disposing their agricultural residue.
Even earlier the green panel had directed the state to adopt a village in Patiala district and give incentives and infrastructural assistance to the farmers there. In its statement, the NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar mentioned: “As on date, have you been able to find out a single farmer whom you have given incentive to stop stubble burning? Tell us where are those farmers? Show us that you have met people and given them the subsidy.”
“We are really concerned about this,” said the tribunal adding that small and marginal farmers cannot be asked to care for the environment by putting them under financial stress.
“Why don’t you take the entire Patiala district as a project? You give them (farmers) proper time and make arrangements simultaneously for the harvesting process,” the NGT bench observed.
“You cannot keep them hanging in air by delaying the entire exercise and causing them financial loss. It is your Chief Minister’s constituency, you should be more than happy to help the farmers in this region,” it added further.
Later responding to NGT’s observation and directions, Bharatiya Kisan Union-Rajewal president Balbir Singh Rajewal told the bench that the machinery needed to recycle the crop residue was not available to the farmers. He also alleged that the authorities were mounting pressure on farmers by imposing fines.
Rajewal also told Indian Express that in various parts of Punjab, more than 30 per cent of the crop residue has already been cleared up and piled up in a common area. “These are potato farmers who have cleared their fields and kept the crop residue in a common area. If the government does not provide them with assistance, it is a matter of time before they burn it,” he added.
After Rajewal’s statement, the NGT directed the counsel to consult with chief secretary of the state and also include Rajewal in consultations and come up with a compensation plan that could provide relief to the farmers for disposing off their agricultural residue. The green tribunal also suggested the counsel to give farmers an option to engage with agencies of their own choice. The next hearing on the matter is scheduled to take place on October 11.