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Give Rs 100/quintal to farmers to curb stubble burning, SC tells state govts

A top court bench ordered that all farmers be given a Rs 100 per quintal incentive to prevent them from setting their fields on fire in preparation for the next crop, and provide them free machines to get rid of the agriculture residue. The bench ...

, ET Bureau|
Nov 07, 2019, 07.42 AM IST
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The court said “enough was enough” and slammed the central and the concerned state governments for shifting the blame on each other and doing virtually nothing to improve air quality.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought immediate measures to stamp out stubble burning, in a bid to permanently end the annual air pollution woes of the national capital and the surrounding regions.

A top court bench ordered that all farmers be given a Rs 100 per quintal incentive to prevent them from setting their fields on fire in preparation for the next crop, and provide them free machines to get rid of the agriculture residue. The bench also demanded an action plan within three weeks to deal with the problem from the Centre and the states in and around the National Capital Region.

Air pollution levels have been much beyond permissible levels in recent days, prompting declaration of a health emergency and a shut-down of schools in the NCR.

The court said “enough was enough” and slammed the central and the concerned state governments for shifting the blame on each other and doing virtually nothing to improve air quality. “Flights are being diverted. The country is getting a bad name,” said Justice Arun Mishra, who was hearing the case along with Justice Deepak Gupta.The court hearing did not end too well for the central government after attorney general KK Venugopal shrugged off the court suggestion to do everything to end stubble burning blamed for the deadly smog hanging over Delhi, and suggested that practical wisdom lay in burning stubble zone-wise.

This angered Justice Mishra who demanded to know how the government could throw up its hands on the issue when people were choking. “We expect better from a responsible, elected government. Can you say that there is no solution? Say that stubble burning is bad but let’s do it zone-wise?”

“Why can’t you help the farmers with machines and money and pick up the stubble for use elsewhere,” he observed. “What is this? A total failure of the state machinery?”

The AG said since some 2 lakh farmers were involved in stubble burning, it would be practically difficult to curb it. But Justice Mishra insisted that it was a matter of life and death and that the government must address the pollution issue. “How many suffer from cancer and asthma? We can’t allow zone-wise stubble burning,” he said. He slammed all governments concerned for abdicating the social welfare goals of the Indian state. The bench had sought the personal appearance of the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi to seek their explanation on the failure and to ensure that this didn’t happen again. “Everyone knew this was going to happen again this year (in winter). State governments have no role to play in a democracy? If you cannot fulfil people’s expectations, you can go,” the judge told the Punjab chief secretary.At one point, he threatened to suspend the top bureaucrat of the state and also haul him up for contempt. “Let people die. Let stubble burning continue yet you remain complacent,” he said.

Also Read

NITI draws up plan to curb stubble burning

Centre to come out with permanent solution to stubble burning: MoS Agriculture

Stubble burning in UP, Punjab, Haryana reduced by 19% since 2018: Govt

There is 12.01% drop in stubble burning cases: Narendra Singh Tomar

Stubble burning up by 5% in Punjab and Haryana, but so is harvesting

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