NGT says no to age-old practice of straw burning

ven as the winter has set in, the pollution-ravaged Capital is now battling thick smog due to stubble burning in and around it, forcing the National Green Tribunal to direct Delhi and its neighbouring States to stop the age-old practice.

A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the Delhi government and the four northern States of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to check the bi-annual menace, which the farmers engage in to save time between sowing of wheat and rice. The tribunal also announced a fine of Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 15,000 on farmers found indulging in straw burning.

The practice is followed by farmers not only to save time under the rice-wheat crop rotation to clear the land of residue of one harvest and sow the next, it is also believed that it makes the land more fertile and kill pests.

In November, farmers sow crops such as wheat and vegetables. They often set fire to their fields to clear them before planting making the atmosphere in Delhi more blinding and suffocating with the smoke moving towards the city.

Every year, images captured by NASA earth observatory show numerous such fires in the northern states.

"The burning of agriculture remains is a serious issue contributing towards global warming and the environmental pollution. You all are putting the life of people and children at danger and they are getting sick. You cannot allow them to suffer," a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said. Delhi government’s counsel D Rajeshwar Rao said “despite the states like Punjab and Haryana banning straw burning, the habit is not dying and Delhi is bearing the brunt”.

The Tribunal has also directed the District magistrates to form a committee to carry out awareness programmes for farmers and villagers so as to educate them about the ill-effects of straw burning.

The Bench said they should be educated by various means such as nuked nataks etc and if the directions are not complied with, the chief secretaries concerned would be held liable, Mr Rao informed.

It is to be noted that in September, 2014, on a separate petition filed by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad, the NGT had issued strict directions against straw burning and directed the Centre and various states to draft a national policy.

The Centre had then proposed giving incentives to farmers and making promoting efficient farming practices with subsidies.

On Wednesday, the Tribunal was informed that the percentage of carbon monoxide in Delhi’s air has shot up and the particulate matter in Delhi stood at 460 mg per cubic metres.

"Global warming is having its own effect. The month of September has been the hottest month in 136 years. Crop burning is expected to be one of the most serious contributors to pollution and the ecology, besides vehicular emission, dust and burning of other materials," the bench said.

Meanwhile, with regard to pollution caused by non-destined vehicles entering Delhi, the Haryana government informed the Bench that on an average it is diverting 600 vehicles every day from Rohtak to Bawal.

Burning of agriculture remains

is a serious issue contributing towards global warming and

the environmental pollution

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2020 6:22:34 PM |

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