Buoyed by the Supreme Court commending Haryana’s efforts to curb stubble burning, CM Manohar Lal Khattar on Tuesday took a dig at neighbour Punjab, saying that the Bhagwant Mann government was ignoring the issue of pollution. Khattar said that his government provides every kind of assistance so that farmers do not burn crop residue.
“Stubble burning is obviously a serious issue regarding pollution. The Supreme Court’s remark against the Punjab government makes it clear that they are not adopting the requisite measures. The Supreme Court also said that they [Punjab government] should learn from Haryana. Here, we are providing all possible help to the farmers. They have responded to our appeals and they are not burning the stubble, for which, I am thankful to them,” Khattar said.
“It is clear that the Government of Punjab has not given much attention to this issue and has failed to adopt the measures that they should have… These are not the topics of politics. The CM of Delhi [AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal] should also understand this. The political statements made by him are not appropriate. We need to work on this together,” Khattar said.
The Supreme Court during a hearing on the pollution in Delhi on Tuesday said that the Punjab government should make the process of crop residue management 100% free of cost for farmers. A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia said the Punjab government should fund diesel, manpower, and other related costs and recover the same from the byproducts of the crop residue.
Observing that the farmers “must have some reason for burning stubble”, the Supreme Court said that the Punjab government should take a cue from Haryana and learn how financial incentives are given to curb such practices.
Reacting to Punjab’s submission that damages were being collected from farmers for stubble burning, which is banned in the state, the SC said that the government should explore other ways to discourage paddy and encourage alternative crops that require less water.
NGT Raps Punjab Govt
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday slammed the Punjab authorities for their less-than-adequate measures to prevent farm fires, amid a surge in air pollution. The NGT found the Punjab chief secretary’s directive to ban farm fires “not fruitful”, reported news agency PTI.
The tribunal, addressing a suo motu case on rising air pollution due to stubble fires, revealed that Punjab, visible entirely in red on a satellite image on Monday, had witnessed 33,719 farm fire incidents (according to the Indian Space Research Organisation), a substantial increase since October 20. The NGT emphasized that insufficient action had been taken, with only 32 cases initiated under pollution control provisions and 829 FIRs registered.
The tribunal raised concerns over selective treatment, where FIRs, environmental compensation, and penal actions were inconsistent. Despite pending matters in the NGT and Supreme Court consideration, the tribunal noted a lack of consistent measures, even after the chief secretary’s directive. The NGT criticized the absence of positive results and scheduled further proceedings for November 29.