national green tribunal

National Green Tribunal: In a suo moto application regarding the issue of stubble burning and consequential aggravation in air pollution in Punjab and Haryana, the four-members Prakash Shrivastava (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member), Arun Kumar Tyagi (Judicial Member), Dr. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member), directed both the States to prepare a time bound action plan disclosing phase-wise proposed action from 01-01-2024 to 01-09-2024 including various preventive steps to control the problem of stubble burning from 2024.

The Tribunal noted that as per the report of Air quality Management there were 36,632 farm incidents in Punjab, 2285 in Haryana and 39,129 in the entire NCR from 15-09-2023 to 28-11-2023. District-wise cumulative number of paddy residue burning events between 15-09-2023 to 16-11-2023 were found to be maximum of 476 in Fatehabad district of Haryana and 5352 events in Sangrur district of Punjab. The Tribunal also noted that there has been marginal drop in the frequency of paddy burning. On 28-11-2023, only18 incidents of paddy residue burning were noticed in Punjab and no incident was noted in Haryana.

The tribunal said that pollution due to residue burning is a serious issue and it arises every year. Further, the Tribunal noted that some of the suggestions which came up as a solution are sensitizing the cultivators, preparation of data base of farm owners and their mobile number, examining suggestions by an expert committee and involving farmers union, scientists and engineers in that process, restricting the use of harvesters and exploring ways for cutting paddy from the bottom/roots.

Therefore, the Tribunal said that preparation of a comprehensive plan and remedial action for controlling this problem next year i.e., in 2024, needs to start now. Thus, the Tribunal directed both the States, to prepare a time bound action plan disclosing phase-wise proposed action from 01-01-2024 to 01-09-2024 which may include various preventive steps for the next year and the accountable authorities for the same.

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

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

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