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Farmers are to be equipped; not punished

Posted in S. Asia

Published on November 10, 2019 with No Comments

COURT DIRECTIVES

  • Punjab, Haryana and UP told to give in a week Rs 100 per quintal (non-basmati) to farmers who shun stubble-burning
  • The 3 states must bear cost of hiring machines to handle crop residue
  • Asks Centre, states to chalk out long-term plan and submit report in three months
  • Delhi Chief Secy pulled up for failing to curb pollution from sources other than farm fires

PUNISHMENT NO FIX

“To punish farmers is not the ultimate solution. Why can’t the government collect and purchase stubble from farmers”.

 The top court pulled up the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and UP — who were earlier asked to appear in person before it — for failing to take steps to stop stubble burning. “We will send you back suspended,” the Bench angrily told the Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, who tried to reason with the court, saying that it couldn’t take the financial burden as the state’s coffers were empty.

The Supreme Court of India has  ordered the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to give Rs 100 per quintal for non-basmati produce as incentive within a week to farmers who have not burnt crop stubble.A Bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Deepak Gupta, which pulled up the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for the failure of the three states in stopping stubble burning, ordered the three states to bear the operational cost of hiring of machines for handling the agricultural residue on behalf of marginal and small farmers with landholding of 2.5 acres and 5 acres, respectively.

Rejecting Attorney General KK Venugopal’s “practical” suggestion to allow farmers to burn the stubble on a rotational basis area-wise, the Bench asked the ministries of agriculture and environment and forests and the governments of Punjab, Haryana, UP and Delhi to chalk out a long-term strategy to deal with stubble burning keeping in view the interests of marginal and small farmers. It sought a report in three months. In case of Uttar Pradesh, the order is applicable to only western UP. “To punish farmers is not the ultimate solution. Provide them with the basic facilities and amenities.  Farmers are to be equipped; not punished.Why the government can’t collect and purchase stubble from farmers?” the Bench commented during the hearing that went on till 10 past 6 in the evening.

 The Bench — which is seized of a PIL on air pollution — directed the Delhi Government and municipal corporations of Delhi to sit together and prepare an effective plan to deal with pollution caused by sources other than stubble burning, including construction and demolition, dust and garbage waste. It also asked the Delhi Government to ensure that all pits and potholes on Capital roads were filled in three weeks.

 The top court pulled up the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and UP — who were earlier asked to appear in person before it — for failing to take steps to stop stubble burning. “We will send you back suspended,” the Bench angrily told the Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, who tried to reason with the court, saying that it couldn’t take the financial burden as the state’s coffers were empty.

 Even Haryana Chief Secretary Keshni Anand Arora was at the receiving end of the court’s anger as she tried to impress upon the Bench by enumerating the steps taken by the state to check stubble burning. She said stubble burning had come down in Haryana. “You are worse than Punjab,” the court remarked.  As the UP Chief Secretary tried to introduce himself, the Bench said, “We are not interested in knowing your name. We know you are the Chief Secretary of UP,  just tell us what you have done to stop stubble burning. Why farmers are burning stubble in western UP?”

The Delhi Chief Secretary too was pulled up for failing to stop pollution caused by sources other than stubble-burning Earlier, advocate Charanpal Singh Bagri, representing Punjab farmers, told the Bench that farmers needed to be supported by governments as they were not in a position to handle the stubble and were forced to burn it.

 Amicus Curiae Aparajita Singh told the Bench that even a day before there were more than 4,800 incidents of stubble burning in Punjab. The court will take up the matter on November 15 again to consider further directions.

 

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