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Take action against farmers for crop residue burning: NGT

A woman burns the remains of a crop. File photo for representative purposes.

A woman burns the remains of a crop. File photo for representative purposes.   | Photo Credit: DAVID GRAY

The National Green Tribunal on Thursday directed state governments to take coercive and punitive action against persistent defaulters of crop residue burning and asked them to withdraw the assistance provided to those farmers.

“In case of persistent defaulters of crop residue burning an appropriate coercive and punitive action could be taken by the state government concerned including launching of prosecution...,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.

The green panel said that the five north Indian states — Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi — which have issued notification prohibiting agriculture crop residue burning shall ensure that these notifications are enforced rigorously and proper action is taken against the defaulters.

“Where on the one hand state governments are directed to provide incentives for farmers for not burning agriculture residue in the open and on the other hand they are required to take into consideration passing of such direction, including withdrawal of assistance provided to the farmers if they persist with the defaults,” the bench said.

It directed that the National Policy of Management of Crop Residue, 2014 prepared by the union Ministry of Agriculture shall in conjunction with the action plan prepared by the states shall be implemented without any default and delay.

The tribunal said small land owners having less than two acres of land will have to pay Rs. 2500, medium land owners holding over two acres and less than five acres will have to pay Rs. 5,000 and those owning over five acres will have to pay Rs. 15,000 per incident of crop burning towards environment compensation.

The panel asked state governments to provide machinery free of cost to the farmers having less than two acres of land, to farmers having medium land owners at a cost of Rs. 5,000 and for the large land holding farmers at Rs. 15,000.

Plea by environmentalist

NGT’s judgement came on a plea by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad who sought a ban on burning of agricultural waste/ remnants in open fields.

Mr. Tongad had alleged that burning of agricultural residue, like straw, in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh caused air pollution not only in these states but is also a major cause of smog in the National Capital Region of Delhi.

The tribunal asked the pollution control boards of the states to monitor the ambient air quality of the major cities, particularly in NCT of Delhi and submit the data to the tribunal.

While directing the district magistrate of the state to constitute a special team to monitor and physically inspect the sites to ensure that there is no agriculture crop residue burning, the panel also asked them to do such inspections on regular intervals.

The tribunal also asked the district magistrates to coordinate with gram panchayats in making farmers aware of and educating them about ill-effects of crop burning.

It directed the state governments to work in coordination with Indian Space Research Organisation, National Remote Sensing Agency and state Remote Sensing Agency to develop a real time monitoring mechanism for monitoring the place, date and time of the burning of agricultural residues.

In his plea, Mr. Tongad has sought directions to authorities concerned as well as the states to take steps to stop practice of burning of agricultural residue/bio-mass.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 8:23:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/take-action-against-farmers-for-crop-residue-burning-ngt/article7971366.ece

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