While staying the recovery of fine from farmers guilty of stubble burning, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has entrusted a responsibility upon all the members of Bharatiya Kissan Union to store the stubble by whatever possible means on personal, common lands, forest land and shamlat land, with due permission, instead of attempting to burn it in the coming harvesting season.
“In case any incident occurs, during the paddy harvesting season, which is about to begin in October, (the same) will be cognizable and challans may be filed against the violators,” Justice Rajiv Narain Raina said in an interim order released Friday while seeking affidavits from Punjab and Haryana on steps taken in pursuance to the directions issued by the National Green Tribunal and a division bench of the High Court earlier in the matter.
Ordering that any fines or recoveries assessed or quantified against the farmers guilty of stubble burning shall be kept in abeyance by all the environmental or trial courts in view of the “growing indebtedness of marginal farmers” and the serious issue of farmer suicides, the HC in the order further said, “However, punitive actions may go on in due course of the law. It is recognized that it is not only the duty of the state but the duty of the Union and its members also to collectively find solutions to put an end to stubble burning, till the views of the stake-holders are formalized in finding long term abiding remedial measures to stop stubble burning, which is also the need of the hour to guard against air pollution violations”.
Observing that the farmers union may tie up with the respective universities and the authorities to consider their submissions on “the burning topic”, the HC has also issued notice to the Punjab Agricultural University and Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agriculture University for assistance in finding modern-day solutions to the problem of stubble burning. Asking the universities to present their research, if any, on alternative uses of stubble, the HC has also asked the secretaries of agriculture departments in the two states to tie up with the universities with a view to find solutions to the problem.
Separately, the HC has also issued notice to the Health Secretary, Government of India for response of the Centre on the problem and possible solutions. The issue pertaining to the stubble burning will be heard as a Public Interest Litigation now. Earlier, the matter was being heard in the Union’s plea against imposition of fine on farmers.
“In view of the magnitude of the problem treating the present petition as a PIL, the same is placed before Hon’ble Chief Justice for consideration whether cognizance be taken of the issues involved in public interest by the PIL Bench for further monitoring,” the order reads.
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