Other issues taken up today
The other issues taken up today by the top court included measures to tackle stubble burning and to curb the burning of garbage in open areas.
The Court was told by the Advocate General of Punjab that 984 first information reports (FIRs) have been lodged in connection with stubble burning.
However, Attorney General R Venkataramani pointed out that fines have been imposed only in 6,000 of the 20,000 incidents of crop fires.
“We have a huge gap in imposing fines and incidents of crop fires. Out of 20,000 odd, only 6,000 fined,” he said.
The Court recorded the same in its order.
“Out of the total fires reported in Punjab, after field visits it appears only in 20% of cases fines have been imposed,” the order noted.
The Court also remarked that farmers with small holdings are more likely to resort to burning.
“What I understand is people who have sufficient holdings have enough incentive to monetize it through mechanised (harvesting). But those with small holdings are struggling (and may have to resort to stubble burning),” the bench said.
The Court acknowledged that there were obstacles to small farmers adopting alternative ways of disposing of stubble, including the costs involved.
To address this, the Court suggested that the government could supply funds, which could later be recovered from by products that arise from alternative disposal methods.
“They are doing it in Punjab. They are getting free electricity also,” a counsel told the Court.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh pointed out that 100 percent subsidies would have to be provided to fund such ventures in Punjab, prompting the Court to point out that the Central government may say it cannot give such incentives only to Punjab.
“See, bottom line is Centre and States must keep aside their politics in this,” the Court eventually urged.
The Court also reiterated earlier concerns that the practice of relying on paddy cultivation should be phased out in Punjab.
The bench noted that land is slowly becoming arid due to paddy cultivation and farmers must be made aware about such effects, the bench added.
“The long term effects of growing paddy in such a manner could be disastrous. We hope it is dealt with,” the Court proceeded to record in its order.