NGT asks states to be vigilant about crop burning



Coming down heavily on the counsel appearing for the State of Punjab's Agriculture Department, a Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said: "These cases are to be done on priority".

Following the lead of farmers in Sangrur, farmers in Sheikhupura village of Gurdaspur district also burnt crop residue on Thursday to protest government's prohibitory orders on stubble burning.

The Bench took exception to the fact that even after more than two years, nothing substantial has been done with regard to stubble burning.

With crop residue burning causing air pollution, the farmers outfit Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) today said they have no option except burning it unless financial incentive is offered.

"For two years, we waited for you (Punjab) to comply with our direction".

"Can you produce a single farmer in entire Punjab before us, whom you can produce before us and say that you have given him any kind of assistance?"

He said the NTPC and representatives of other companies were willing to cut and buy crop residue from the fields.

The Bench repeatedly asked the State to present before the Tribunal a report of the steps that had been taken by it to help the farmers. "Call all 21 farmers whose residue crops you have satisfactorily put in the soil".

While pronouncing the order, the green panel said, "The Station House Officer (SHO) of Kalar Majri is directed to ensure that all the 21 farmers that have been spoken about by the State government are brought to the Tribunal".

Earlier, the NGT 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. "Stubble burning is for betterment of land, and we will continue till our demands are met", he added.