Stubble burning: Fines to start again, says PPCB
Farmers who burn paddy stubble are liable to be booked under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant) of the IPC. The punishment is simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to ₹200, or with both.Updated: Oct 23, 2019 23:20 IST
The spurt in the number of cases of stubble burning over this week is rooted in the state’s failure to take stringent action, in the form of fines, for violating the ban on the practice. Officials claim that confusion over the Punjab and Haryana high court order issued in mid-September led to no fine being imposed. They added that farm unions used this opportunity to misguide farmers.
Now, however, clarity seems to have emerged. Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) member secretary, Krunesh Garg, said, on Wednesday, that after taking legal opinion on court orders, the board had directed field staff and the district administration to carry out field visits and take punitive action against those violating the ban.
Farmers who burn paddy stubble are liable to be booked under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant) of the IPC. The punishment is simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to ₹200, or with both.
Under the National Green Tribunal (NGT), fines are to be recovered from farmers based on the area over which the offence in committed. Every instance merits punishment.
No challans for environmental relief
Last year, state government agencies, including the PPCB, in assistance with district administration officials visited 30,550 burning sites, of 45,000 reported cases. The agencies had imposed environmental compensation of ₹1 crore on 3,690 farmers.
This year, however, the state government is yet to start issuing challans. The PPCB had collected compensation of ₹15.7 lakh before the HC stayed the recovery of environmental compensation imposed on farmers in September this year on a plea that farm union leaders had filed.
“The board collects stubble burning data and sends district-wise locations gathered from the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC), Ludhiana, to district administrations concerned for action,” Garg said.
He added on Wednesday, officials visited 1,270 burning sites across the state, of which 444 sites were found not to be involved. “We have asked district authorities to take the required action against the remaining 826 sites,” Garg added.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) general secretary Jagmohan Singh said farmers had no alternative than to burn paddy stubble as the government had failed to provide any assistance to stop the menace.
“Providing machinery won’t help, as in order to dispose of stubble over one acre, a farmer has to spend at least ₹5,000. How can farmers afford this when they are already under financial distress? We are demanding ₹200 per quintal from the state government to manage stubble,” he said.
In Sangrur, special teams impose ₹50,000 fine in 20 cases
Special teams of district administration visited 62 spots to check cases of stubble burning across the district and imposed a total fine of ₹50,000 in 20 cases on Wednesday, deputy commissioner Ghanshyam Thori said.
Thori conducted a meeting with SDMs, officials of agriculture department, district food and supply controller, the PPCB, government procurement agencies and officials of revenue department and reviewed the activities and action being taken to curb the unhealthy practice of stubble burning. The DC added that even nambardars, sarpanches, panches, government employees or those who had acquired panchayat land on lease, would also have to face action if stubble was burnt on their fields.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued orders in December 2015 according to which farmers burning paddy stubble are to be penalised (for each instance they are caught) according to the following formulae based on the area of the land that they burn the stubble on: