stubble burning in Punjab

National Green Tribunal: In a suo motu application against stubble burning in the State of Punjab, the Tribunal noted satellite images which showed that the entire State of Punjab is shown in red colour, the three-member bench of Prakash Shrivastava (Chairperson) Sudhir Agarwal, (Judicial Member) Dr. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member), said that no fruitful result was brought about even after the Tribunal’s direction and that consistent adequate measures were not taken to prevent the farm fire incidents.

The Tribunal took suo motu cognizance of the matter on 20-10-2023 and noted that the State had witnessed 656 farm fire incidents. Considering the seriousness of the problem, the Tribunal issued certain directions. The Tribunal noted that cumulative number of farm fire incidents reported as per ISRO protocol in the State were 33,719 and that adequate action was not taken. Further, the Tribunal said that all the persons involved in the farm fire incidents were not treated uniformly but a selective approach was adopted by registering FIRs against some, by prosecuting some under the Air Act, 1981, by imposing environmental compensation against others and by making the red entry in some cases. The Tribunal also noted that after passing of the previous order on 08-11-2023, there was some reduction in the farm fire incidents on the next three days i.e. 9th, 10th and 11th November 2023 but again, the incidents had shown increasing trend and on 15-11-2023, there were as many as 2544 farm fire incidents.

The Tribunal said that the data showed that consistent adequate measures were not taken to prevent the farm fire incidents, despite the fact that the matter was pending before the Tribunal and orders were issued. The Tribunal also noted that Chief Secretary’s direction to accord top priority to control the stubble burning and ensure that such incidents are immediately reduced to zero, however, the said direction did not bring about any fruitful results.

The matter was further listed for hearing on 29-11-2023.

[In re: News item appearing in Hindu dated 06-10-2023 titled “Pollution takes a front seat as stubble fires spike in Punjab”]

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