The National Green Tribunal has directed the governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to submit before it specific cases of small farmers being given incentive to desist them from burning crop residue in a bid to prevent air pollution.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the four northern states to submit within three weeks at least 10 such cases.
“The Additional Chief Secretary, Principal Secretaries and Special Secretary, of State of Punjab, State of Rajasthan, State of Uttar Pradesh and State of Haryana respectively are present.
“They assure the tribunal that within three weeks from today, they would bring at least 10 cases of preferably marginal farmers to provide due incentive, help and means to them, so that they do not follow traditional methodology of crop residue burning in the field itself.
“Besides taking general steps in accordance to the order of the tribunal that list of these 10 cases from a particular village or area, falls in their jurisdiction, be placed before the tribunal, with complete documentation with regard to delivery and utilisation of the agricultural residue in accordance,” the bench said.
The direction came after a group of farmers alleged that the Punjab government was not taking any effective steps on the issue except passing orders and not providing infrastructure or any kind of benefits to them.
The matter is fixed for hearing on October 4.
The green panel had earlier rapped the four northern states for not submitting action plans to prevent pollution emanating from crop burning after the harvest season.
It had directed the governments of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan to show how the field staff of the departments concerned and the state pollution control boards were going to control pollution caused by crop residue burning.
The NGT had earlier fixed the environment penalty amounts per incident of crop burning to be paid by small land owners having less than two acres of land at Rs 2,500, medium land owners holding over two acres and less than five acres at Rs 5,000 and those owning over five acres at Rs 15,000.
It had also directed the state governments to take coercive and punitive action against persistent defaulters and asked them to withdraw the assistance provided to such farmers.
The green panel had said the five states–Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi–which had issued notifications prohibiting agriculture crop residue burning, should ensure that these notifications were enforced rigorously and proper action was taken against the defaulters.
The NGT’s order had come on a plea by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad who had sought a ban on burning of agricultural waste and remnants in open fields