The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has criticized the Punjab government for the rise in farm fires amidst the air pollution crisis in Delhi and its neighboring cities. During a hearing on pollution, the NGT questioned why there has been no significant improvement in the situation despite actions being taken.
The NGT directed all Chief Secretaries of states where air quality index (AQI) in cities remained severe, very poor, and poor, to take immediate remedial measures to improve air quality. This direction came after reports were submitted by various state authorities in response to the NGT’s earlier order.
Based on these reports, the NGT stated that the concerned authorities are lacking in making the necessary efforts to improve air quality. It further noted that although the Counsels for the parties claimed adequate action has been taken to control pollution, the chart in the reports does not show any significant improvement.
In the meantime, the Punjab Police has registered 932 FIRs against farmers for burning crop residue since November 8 and imposed fines in 7,405 cases. The state has also entered red entries in the revenue records of 340 farmers for stubble burning. The efforts of the Punjab Police to prevent stubble burning have resulted in a drastic reduction in farm fire cases in the last two days.
Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana has been identified as one of the reasons for the high air pollution levels in Delhi. The Supreme Court has previously directed Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan to halt crop residue burning to protect the people from pollution-related health hazards.
The Punjab Police, under the guidance of DGP Gaurav Yadav, has appointed Arpit Shukla as the nodal officer to monitor action against stubble burning. Legal action is being taken against those found burning stubble, and farmers are encouraged to cooperate. The efforts of the police and civil administration officials have led to a significant decrease in farm fire cases.
To ensure compliance with the directive, flying squads comprising police and civil officials are maintaining vigilance, and senior police officials are engaging with farmer leaders at the district level. Over 2,000 meetings have been held since November 8.
(Source: Adapted from an article in an Indian publication)