Punjab farmers burn stubble to protest prohibition orders

Henrietta Strickland
October 12, 2017

The December 2015 order issued by NGT was based on the appeal of Greater Noida based environmentalist, Vikrant Tongad versus Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) where it had imposed a ban on burning of crop residues across India and particularly in states of Haryana, UP, Punjab and Rajasthan.

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".

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

The protesting farmers said they had no other option except to burn crop residue as substitute to stubble burning was expensive machinery, which was not a possibility for debt-ridden farmers.

"For two years, we waited for you (Punjab) to comply with our direction. The entire initiative is to make the farmers aware of the environmental damage created by crop burning+", Tongad said. This is not a political issue but this issue relates to the environment. "You think you have no obligation to anyone on this earth". "Call all 21 farmers whose residue crops you have satisfactorily put in the soil".

Kapila, on behalf of the large number of farmers who had gathered outside the NGT to attend the hearing, said the state government had not taken any concrete step to help the farmers. Burning of crop residues and stalks after harvest is a traditional method of cleaning a field practiced by farmers. "Punjab government has not done anything to get farmers free from debt", said President of Bhartiya Kisan Union, Charan Singh. "Why is there so much of dissatisfaction among the farmers and what is the reason behind the distrust between them and the government?" asked the Bench.

Delhi's pollution at Lodhi area was recorded as poor category on Wednesday evening.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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