Don't make farmer the villain, but stop MSP on paddy to check farm fires: Supreme Court : The Tribune India

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Don't make farmer the villain, but stop MSP on paddy to check farm fires: Supreme Court

Facing law & order problem in dealing with stubble burning, says Punjab Advocate General

Don't make farmer the villain, but stop MSP on paddy to check farm fires: Supreme Court


Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, November 21

As air quality in Delhi-NCR continues to be “very poor” due to raging farm fires in Punjab and other neighbouring states, the Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested stopping paddy MSP for farmers burning stubble.

Why punish punjab farmers, ask experts

  • The SC suggestion to exclude farmers from MSP benefits if they indulged in farm fires has created a furore in Punjab
  • Economists and farm leaders claim Punjab farmers are being ‘demonised and punished for Delhi pollution even as their contribution was only 15%’

Reformist farmers given certificates

  • The Gurdaspur district administration in Punjab has been honouring reformist farmers, who have not been burning stubble, with certificates
  • The certificates, ‘Watawaran De Rakhwale’ (green guard-ians), ensure the works of farmers are done on priority

“The stick must also follow the carrot. Why should people who, despite all observations of the court and despite counselling, continue to violate the law be allowed to benefit monetarily? People who have been identified as having lit fires should not be allowed to sell their produce under this system. There should be something that pinches,” a Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia said.

“Why should any purchase be made under the minimum support price (MSP) system from people violating the orders and lighting fires, regardless of how this affects the people?” it said.

Noting that the MSP policy could not be done away with, Justice Dhulia suggested that farmers burning stubble should not be allowed to grow paddy.

As Attorney General R Venkataramani said the MSP policy was a “complex issue”, the Bench said a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary could examine it after receiving inputs from state governments. The Bench, however, left the decision to the wisdom of the government.

Amicus curiae Aparajita Singh complained that even on Sunday, over 700 farm fire incidents were reported from Punjab. Asserting there must be some explanation for farmers burning stubble, the Bench said, “The farmer is being made a villain and he is not being heard. He must have some reasons for burning stubble.”

The top court expressed serious concern over the decline in water table in Punjab. “What concerns me is that the land in Punjab is becoming arid slowly because the water table is getting depleted. If the land runs dry, everything else will get affected,” Justice Kaul said.

Maintaining that the top court was not an expert on these issues, the Bench asked the Attorney General to explore as to how Punjab farmers could be discouraged from cultivating paddy and persuaded to shift to alternative crops. It posted the matter for further hearing on December 7. “It’s for you to work out the mechanism... The Centre and the state government must forget politics of it and apply their minds to see how to stop paddy cultivation,” the Bench said.

The Bench asked the Punjab Government to take a cue from the endeavours made by the Haryana Government.

At the outset, Punjab Advocate General Gurminder Singh apprised the Bench of the measures taken by the state government. He said 984 FIRs had been lodged against land owners for farm fires and Rs 2 crore fines had been imposed on them. “As of yesterday, there was a protest on the roads...They (farmers) are blocking people from accessing the fields to put out the fires. This is a law and order situation and we are dealing with it,” he told the court.

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#Agriculture #Environment #Farm Fires #Pollution #Stubble Burning #Supreme Court


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