air pollution

Bring the 21 farmers you stopped from burning crops, NGT tells Punjab government

To test Punjab’s claims of having supported farmers to manage stubble without burning, the environment tribunal asked it to bring them to court on October 13.

The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday asked the Punjab government to bring the 21 farmers who were given incentives and infrastructural facilities to prevent them from burning crop residue, on October 13, PTI reported. The tribunal had banned crop burning in 2015, to reduce air pollution in the National Capital Region.

The tribunal had asked the government to help farmers manage the crop residue, which farmers set on fire to make up for the short window between winter and summer crops.

While the Punjab government claimed it has adopted farmers from the “model village” of Kalar Majri in the Patiala district and given them incentives, farmers from across the state gathered at the NGT on Wednesday to tell the court about the state government’s inaction, The Indian Express reported.

On Wednesday, the NGT Chairperson, Justice Swatanter Kumar, pulled up the state for not taking action even after more than two years. Earlier this month too, the tribunal had rapped the Punjab government for not giving farmers incentives or helping them manage the crop residue.

The tribunal said nothing substantial had been done about to stubble burning. “Why are you projecting this as a fight between the government and the farmers?,” the bench asked. “It is as if their (farmers’) children don’t need fresh air, and nor do you.”

Meanwhile, farmers in Punjab’s Sungrur burned the residue in their fields as part of the protest against the state. “The government must give us a subsidy if they want us to stop,” ANI quoted them as saying.

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