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Punjab Govt Under NGT Scanner: Produce The 21 Farmers Stopped From Crop Burning

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| } October 12 , 2017 , 10:28 IST

As a part of the mission to reduce pollution, farmers had been directed not to burn crops, although several continue to do so, harming the environment greatly.

The Punjab government has claimed that this year it stopped 21 farmers from burning crop stubble by giving them incentives, after which the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has told the state to produce the farmers before the NGT on October 13.

The 21 farmers were reportedly from the 'adopted' Kallar Majri village near Patiala district and were stopped by the government which gave them incentives and infrastructural facilities.

“Hitting out at the government, the NGT said that even after two years of being asked to come up with an action plan, they have not done much. The bench clearly asked if the government can produce a single farmer from Punjab before them who can say that whether the government gave him any kind of assistance,” Bharatiya Kisan Union president Balbir Singh Rajewal said.

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If the authorities fail to produce details of the farmers it claims to have stopped from crop burning, the NGT has warned strict action against the official who made the claim.

NGT rapped the state government saying that the matter is not a “political issue”, but an “environmental issue” as crop burning was damaging the environment greatly.

Rajewal highlighted the problems and frustrations of farmers.

“Everybody is highlighting stubble burning as the reason for rise in air pollution, but what about the industries that do the same? Farmers don’t burn stubble because they are happy doing it. They are just helpless and don’t have any choice. Farmers feel it is has become a fight between the poor and the rich. Nobody is genuinely concerned about the state of farmers,” the Bharatiya Kisan Union president said.

The Pollution Control Board's standing counsel Naginder Benipal said that the number of crop burning cases have gone down by nearly 10 percent from last year.

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“This year, a total 948 cases have been reported. Stubble burning has reduced by 10%. Out of these 948 cases, we have issued challans to 104 farmers and collected a fine of Rs 1,45,000. In fact, the government is making sure that if any government employee owning agriculture land burns stubble, strict action will be taken against them. The Punjab School Education Board has come up with a lesson for Class 12 students on stubble burning so they realise its ill-effects early in life,” Benipal said.

BKU president Rajewal, said that this year the farmers will celebrate a “black Diwali” due to frustration with the government.

“Farmers will not buy sweets or crackers this year. They are angry at the government. They are burning stubble in retaliation. The government is not ready to give anything to the farmers. Instead, the state government is pressuring the farmers. But the government should realise that farmers are not scared of any pressure. Stubble burning is the only solution left with them," he said.