The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has been passing orders to improve the air quality in Delhi and NCR but straw burning in Punjab and Haryana continues unabated.
The tribunal on Tuesday asked the union environment ministry to submit a report on the implementation of the existing rules against straw burning by May 25. “We make it clear that if minutes of the meeting and the final document is not placed on record before the tribunal, we will be compelled to impose very heavy costs on MoEF,” the bench said.
According to the applicant in the case, Vikrant Tongad, farmers in Punjab and Haryana have started burning wheat straws that are left behind after the harvest. “You can go to Greater Noida and see straw burning along the expressway even today.
Similarly, along NH-1, one can easily see agricultural waste being burnt. The practice is continuing,” said Tongad.
Earlier, the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences did a scientific analysis of the thick smog cover that covers the Capital for over a fortnight just before winter and stated that it was due to shortrange transport of smoke from Punjab and Haryana.
“The smoke caused by burning of crop stubble in the harvesting season of ‘kharif ’ moved towards Delhi due to favourable northerly winds as determined from back trajectory analysis and air quality forecasting,” the study had stated. The problem is not as visible in summers as in winters because the weather doesn’t permit the formation of smog. The air quality and particulate matter concentration, however, are affected.
At a meeting with the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority, officials from Delhi, UP, Punjab and Haryana had also decided to enforce a ban on the burning of farm waste.