Last Updated: November 21, 2023, 6:37 PM IST
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rapped the Punjab government for not taking strict actions against stubble burning, one of the biggest causes of air pollution in Delhi-NCR, and observed that farmers are presented as villains while not getting adequate chances to be heard in court.
The apex court made the observations while hearing a series of petitions on the toxic air across Delhi that has created a chokehold-like situation for the residents of the national capital.
According to HT, a bench of Justices SK Kaul and S Dhulia directed the Punjab and Delhi governments to take action against the burning of agricultural waste, which added significantly to Delhi’s AQI crisis.
The bench also stated the AAP-led Punjab government’s report suggested that over 8,400 meetings were held with farmers and farmer leaders to convince them to not burn paddy straws by state house officers but still the number of farm fires could not be abated, the publication reported.
The court also questioned Bhagwant Mann’s government about why the process of crop residue management is not completely free and why the administration is failing to fund the cost of petrol or diesel needed for the same.
“Why doesn’t the Punjab government make the process of crop residue 100% free? To burn it, all the farmer needs to do is light a matchstick. Machine for the management of crop residue to farmers is not everything. Even if the machine is given for free, there is diesel cost, manpower, etc,” HT quoted the SC as saying.
For this purpose, the apex court asked the Punjab government to take inspiration from its neighbouring state Haryana, which offered financial incentives and managed to significantly bring down stubble burning.
“The state of Punjab should also take a cue from the state of Haryana in the manner in which financial incentives are given,” said the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, several farmer bodies in Punjab on Monday held protests at the offices of deputy commissioners and sub-divisional magistrates at many places, seeking the withdrawal of cases registered against farmers for burning stubble.
The protesting farmers, who also demanded a long-lasting solution for paddy straw, brought stubble-laden trolleys to several offices of DCs and SDMs.
The agitating farmers demanded the withdrawal of legal actions, including registration of FIRs and rollback of the fine imposed on farmers for burning crop residue. They also demanded an increase in sugarcane rates and fair compensation for land acquisition under the Bharatmala projects.