Over a hundred farmers had gathered outside the NGT premises here on Wednesday to attend the hearing on the issue and put forth their submissions and grievances through a lawyer before a Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar. "Our expense will increase if we don't burn stubble; our land will not be ready for sowing and the cropping season will get delayed", said a protesting farmer, and added that government should pay them compensation to cover their losses. "The entire initiative is to make the farmers aware of the environmental damage created by crop burning+", Tongad said. "Either you help them or face contempt of court". What step did you take thereafter? Their harvesting schedules are time-bound.
"Rather than penalising the farmers, the state government should come out with providing financial assistance for farmers", they said. "Why is there so much of dissatisfaction among the farmers and what is the reason behind the distrust between them and the government?" asked the Bench.
Responding to the claims, the green Bench directed the presence of the 21 farmers before the Tribunal.
During the proceedings, advocate IG Kapila, appearing for the farmers, referred to a newspaper report and said the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and a few biomass power units have expressed their intent to purchase crop residue from farmers in surrounding States. "Consequences will be serious if it is found that these people are posed", said the Bench. The December 2015 order issued by NGT was based on the appeal of Greater Noida based environmentalist, Vikrant Tongad versus Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) where it had imposed a ban on burning of crop residues across India and particularly in states of Haryana, UP, Punjab and Rajasthan.
The farmers have been asked to be present before the Tribunal on Friday.