The National Green Tribunal on Friday criticised the Punjab government for not taking effective steps to curb stubble burning in the state, PTI reported. The green court said the state government had failed to provide financial assistance and infrastructure to the farmers to encourage them not to burn agricultural residue.

A bench headed by chairperson Swatanter Kumar said the green tribunal had passed a slew of directions to stop crop burning two years ago, but the government had shown a “lethargic approach”. “Tell us what steps have you taken since 2015 when we passed a detailed judgement,” the court asked the state’s counsel. “What have you done for setting up of biomass plants and pelletisation plants in the state?”

The bench said the Punjab government had not given a single advertisement to sensitise the farmers about stubble burning. “Did you provide any incentive or machines to the farmers? You people only know how to give speeches. We are shocked by the way you are behaving,” the court told the Punjab government.

The Punjab government’s counsel told the green court that state officials had a meeting with the National Thermal Power Corporation and decided that the price of crop residue should be capped at Rs 5,500 per tonne. The counsel also said that seven biomass plants and 24 cardboard manufacturing plants had been established to utilise crop residue.

The matter will be heard next on December 11.

Burning the stubble of paddy crops has been one of the primary causes of air pollution in the region. It also led to the blanket of smog that enveloped the National Capital Region and parts of North India in November, and in the winter of 2016 as well. On November 22 this year, the green court had asked the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to come up with a solution to the problem.