Rs 500/acre for farmers: NHRC to take up issue with Centre if Punjab gives it in writing
During the meeting, Punjab Chief Secretary VK Janjua is learnt to have told NHRC chairperson Arun Kumar Mishra that while his state and Delhi had agreed to pay Rs 500 each per acre, the Centre had refused to pay Rs 1500 as bonus to the farmers
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Friday asked Punjab government to give it in writing that the state and Delhi government were ready to pay Rs 500 each per acre to farmers for not burning paddy stubble.
The NHRC on Friday held the third hearing of chief secretaries of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi on air pollution due to paddy stubble burning in NCR in light of reports submitted by them in response to its directions in the last meeting.
During the meeting, Punjab Chief Secretary VK Janjua is learnt to have told NHRC chairperson Arun Kumar Mishra that while his state and Delhi had agreed to pay Rs 500 each per acre, the Centre had refused to pay Rs 1500 as bonus to the farmers.
“To this, the NHRC chairperson said that the state government should write to the commission and they will take up the matter with the Centre. We will prepare a note and send it,” a functionary of Punjab government, privy to the developments, said.
The Commission had asked Punjab to provide data on the crop reside management (CRM) machines available for utilisation. It had stated that compared to the year 2021, CRM machines available for utilization in the current year is 1,05,310. There is an increase of only 14,888 machines, whereas as per the report, purchase of 30000 machines during the current year had been sanctioned. The commission had asked the state to give reasons for shortfall in the purchase of the CRM machines. The state has sought time for compiling the data.
The Commission had also asked for details of bio-decomposer used in the state. Punjab Agricultural University experts, who joined the virtual meeting, informed the Commission that the bio-decomposer was used at a few places but it was not effective against stubborn paddy straw. Mishra is learnt to have asked the state to give an affidavit on this issue also so that it could be taken up with Centre.
Punjab government also told the Commission that the number of fire incidents in paddy fields had decreased by 31 per cent this year owing to the government’s measures to check the menace.
The panel said the Punjab government would need to have dedicated machines for poor farmers to harvest and dispose of stubble. These machines should be procured and provided free of cost to the poor farmers through panchayats or cooperatives to bring down incidents of stubble burning to zero.
It asked for specific details of stubble generated, how much was burnt and how much was processed effectively by specifying place-wise incidents. It also asked the government to find alternatives if crop residue decomposer machines were not effective.
On November 10, the commission had also heard the chief secretaries of the four states after taking a suo motu cognizance of unabated air pollution in Delhi-NCR as reported in media. It had stated that after considering the responses of the concerned states and the Government of NCT of Delhi, and the deliberations thereon, it is of the opinion that the farmers are burning stubble under compulsion.
Seeking further reports, the next date of hearing has been fixed for November 25.
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