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Punjab Govt set to produce over 30 farmers before NGT tomorrow in stubble burning case

Chandigarh, October 13: The Punjab government is all set to present over 30 farmers tomorrow morning before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in response to the latter’s directive to produce 21 farmers incentivized to check stubble burning.

The NGT had on Wednesday directed the state government to bring before it the 21 farmers it had said had been helped through incentives and infrastructural facilities to prevent them from burning paddy residue in a bid to check air pollution.

Not only will the government produce over 30 such farmers, the Department of Agriculture will also update the court on the actions taken so far to manage paddy straw in Village Kallar-Majri, Nabha (Patiala), an official spokesperson disclosed here today. The detailed list of activities, which include installation of machines to farmers in the village, will be provided to the court, the spokesperson said, adding that the equipment was already operational across 67 acres of land.

The Department is also taking steps in six other villages of Patiala district to facilitate residue management and the same will also be apprised to the court, said the spokesperson. The government, as per an earlier directive of the Tribunal, is also exploring ways and means to provide incentive as compensation to the farmers to stop them from burning stubble. The spokesperson pointed out that the state government had requested the central government for grant-in-aid for providing incentive to the farmers, with the Chief Minister have written to the Prime Minister seeking Rs 100 per quintal to be incorporated in the MSP for paddy. The state has proposed that such compensation be given only to those farmers who efficiently manage the paddy straw without burning it.

The spokesperson lashed out at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) as well as other political and farmer outfits for trying to pressurize the beneficiary farmers from coming out in support of the government on the issue. The Akalis failed to check the environmentally disastrous practice of stubble burning in the past two years despite the NGT directives, said the spokesperson, adding that they were now trying to scuttle the Captain Amarinder Singh government’s efforts to manage the paddy residue in an environment-friendly manner.

Notwithstanding the financial crisis in which the erstwhile SAD-BJP government had left the state, the Congress government was going all out to resolve the issue in the interest of all concerned, said the spokesperson, rejecting the motivated statement of former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia that the government was victimizing the farmers instead of helping them.

It was in the interest of the government to incentivize and help the farmers to check stubble burning as the environmental safety of the state depended on it, said the spokesperson. Asserting that there was no question of penalizing the farming community, the spokesperson pointed out that the Chief Minister had made his government’s stand on this issue amply clear.