The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Punjab government to ensure that agricultural residue is not burnt and help farmers with machinery and mechanism to dispose the waste materials without polluting the environment.
Pollution levels in the national capital has seen an upswing with the onset of winter that also sees weak winds. This means that particulate matter in the air lingers for much longer. Burning of crop stubble is seen as a major contributor to Delhi’s pollution woes. Punjab farmers, reportedly, burn almost 15 metric tonnes of paddy straw every year.
NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar in his order (a copy of which is with The Indian Express) said that equipment should be provided free of cost to small farmers having less than 2 acres. For farmers having less than five acres but more than two acres, the price should be Rs 5000 and for the rest, it to be Rs 15,000, the order added.
“Farmers must be educated of how crop residue burning is injurious to human health, causes serious air pollution and is now banned or prohibited by law. They shall also be educated that the agriculture residue can be extracted and utilised for various purposes including manufacturing of boards, fodder, rough paper manufacturing and as a raw material for power generation etc,” mentioned in the NGT order.
The tribunal also announced fines for those who was found violating this order.
NGT directed the Pollution Control Board to monitor the ambient air quality and asked all district magistrates to constitute a special team to monitor and physically inspect the sites to ensure that there is no agriculture crop residue burning in their respective jurisdictions.