The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre to develop environment-friendly farming practices to reduce stubble burning, a major cause of air pollution in the national capital during the autumn and winter months. A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg issued the direction to the ministries of Environment, Science and Technology, and Agriculture asking them to coordinate with educational or technical institutions, if feasible.
The court also asked the Central government to explore the possibility of creating a fund for innovation in farming techniques. It told the secretaries of the three ministries to hold a meeting on this aspect and file a report of the proposals discussed on the way forward as well as the views of the central government.
However, the court left it to the central government to finally decide if it was necessary to create a fund. The order of the court came last month while hearing a PIL initiated by it on the issue of rising air pollution in Delhi.
It also issued directions to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and the Delhi governments to file status reports every alternate month on steps taken to educate and create awareness among farmers and agricultural workers against the ills of stubble-burning.
The status reports would also have to indicate any notifications issued, number of meetings held with their minutes, number of persons fined or booked for indulging in stubble-burning, the bench has said in its order.
The states also have to tell the court about the progress achieved, if any, by them with regard to exploring use of alternative technology or farming practice to eliminate stubble and giving incentives or subsidies to stop the practice of burning the crop residue. The court will take up the matter on August 29.