National Green Tribunal (NGT), coming down heavily on stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana
With a bumper paddy crop expected in the two agrarian states this kharif season -- likely in excess of 22.5 million tonnes -- the crop residue that will be burnt by farmers to prepare their land for the next crop sowing will be phenomenal. Punjab is expecting to procure over 18 million tonnes of paddy this season.
The central and state governments, in recent years, have tried several steps -- from warning farmers to registering cases against them to creating awareness on stubble-burning, but nothing seems to be working. The burning of the crop residue, leading to pollution and even smog over northern India in the winter months, has serious health implications for the people.
"Most farmers are not well off. They cannot adopt the scientific and technological methods being suggested as it costs money. They have no option but to burn the residue to clear their agricultural fields and be ready for sowing the next crop," farmer Gurmel Singh of Fatehgarh Sahib district told IANS.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ruled out confronting the farmers on the issue, saying his government "would not add to the financial burden of the beleaguered farmers, many of whom are committing suicide due to economic hardship".
"While we are committed to environmental protection, we would not pressurise the farmers in the process of implementing the ban on burning of paddy residue. There is no question of penalising the farmers, who can.. barely make both ends meet," Amarinder said, adding that the law and order machinery was not adequate to solve the problem, which required collective efforts by the central and state governments for a meaningful resolution.
By BOA Bureau