New Delhi

New Delhi, Oct 4 IANS) The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday sought an explanation from the Punjab government following protest by the farmers that they were not being provided with adequate facilities to manage the stubble.

As the harvest season of paddy is ongoing, the farmers of four states -- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana -- follow the common practice of burning the stubble, thereby creating serious air-pollution situation in the national capital.

Earlier, the carbon dioxide level in Delhi's air was up by 70 per cent due to stubble burning after paddy harvest season, while carbon monoxide shot up by seven per cent and nitrogen dioxide was up by 2.1 percent, causing serious health issues.

The NGT had in 2015 asked the four states to curb stubble burning and later asked them to incentivise the small farmers to manage the stubble.

However, a group of farmers from Punjab on Wednesday alleged that the state government was not doing enough to help them.

They also alleged that the state government did not have enough infrastructure, machinery or adequate plan.

"They (government) are simply harassing the farmers and intimidating them with penalty, while they have no machinery. Thirty per cent of the paddy has already been harvested. The farmers will have no choice but to burn it as the government is not helping," Dalbeer Singh Rajewal, President, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Punjab, told the NGT.

The farmers also filed an intervention petition pointing out the same.

The NGT had earlier fixed the environment penalty amount per incident of crop burning to be paid by small land owners having less than two acres of land at Rs 2,500, medium land owners holding over two acres and less than five acres at Rs 5,000 and those owning over five acres at Rs 15,000.

The NGT has asked the Punjab government to apprise it of the operational cost of managing the stubble, residue collection programme and details of machinery provided.

"What are you doing, why you are not providing assistance to the farmer on managing the stubble," NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the Punjab government.

The matter will be next heard on October 11.

The NGT had earlier asked the four state governments to provide assistance to the farmers in managing the stubble. Under this, a plan was chalked out in which stubble is chopped and through reverse-ploughing mixed with the soil to form compost.

However, the farmers from Punjab alleged that the operational cost of this is too high and the state government is neither providing them with machinery nor any other kind of assistance.

The farmers also alleged that Kallarmadri village in Patiala district, which was adopted as the model by the state government to stop stubble burning, had received only one combine-harvester machine while it needs six of those.

"There are 12,188 villages that started harvesting the paddy on an area of 38 lakh hectare. By November, we have to prepare our field for sowing wheat. To manage the residue, farmers need reversible plough worth over Rs 2 lakh, rotors and mergers worth over Rs 2.7 lakh and big tractors," Rajewal told IANS.

"Two-thirds of the farmers population has less than one hectare. How would they manage this cost when the agriculture department is providing no help? You will see that all the residue will be burnt like last year."

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