The National Green Tribunal has directed the Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture to submit a status report within six weeks on providing infrastructural assistance to farmers to stop them from burning crop residue to prevent air pollution.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel asked the official to take feedback from the authorities concerned on steps taken to enforce the directions of the tribunal including providing machinery to poor and marginal farmers.
The green panel said that the crop residue burning causes air pollution and industries should help the farmers by way of corporate social responsibility.
"As per estimate of the Niti Ayog, the farmers are required to be educated at a cost of Rs 700 crore. The report dated June 5, 2017 mentioned equipments available for the purpose. However, the poor farmers are unable to afford the cost of machines. Moreover, in situ degradation of paddy straw may help the soil. The central government has set aside a sum of Rs 685 crore for helping the farmers. Still, stubble burning continues.
"The above averments show that there are already directions of this Tribunal on the subject on which reliance has been placed. Need is for enforcement of the directions already issued. Accordingly, we direct the Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture to have a feedback from the authorities concerned as to enforcement of directions of the tribunal within six weeks and furnish a status report," the bench said.
The tribunal said that it would consider the status report on September 18.
The plea said also contended that the corporate bodies should provide funds as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility to help the poor farmers.
The Punjab government had earlier faced the wrath of the tribunal for not taking effective steps to provide financial assistance and infrastructure facility to farmers to encourage them not to burn agricultural residue in their fields.
The green panel had said that three years had elapsed since its verdict in the Vikrant Tongad case, in which it had passed a slew of directions to stop crop burning, but the state government had shown a lethargic approach.
It had said the Punjab government had also failed to tie up with any company, private or public, which could utilise the crop residue.
The tribunal had directed the Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh governments to convene a meeting to work out a clear mechanism on transportation and use of stubble as fuel in power plants.
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