The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority has directed Punjab and Haryana Governments to make paddy straw burning an offence.

Taking serious note of the thick smog over the National Capital Region over the past few days, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has asked four States – Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana – to take immediate remedial measures.

In a recent stock-taking meeting, the Supreme Court-appointed body was particularly concerned over recent reports on the practice of burning post-harvest paddy stubble in Punjab, which was said to be one reason for the thick smog over the NCR region, a Centre of Science and Environment release said.

The EPCA has now directed Punjab and Haryana to make paddy straw burning an offence. “The Department of Environment, Punjab, will issue a notification prohibiting burning of left-over straw after harvesting of crops in whole of Punjab with immediate effect under Section 19 (5) of the Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

Both, state of Punjab and Haryana will ensure that there is a complete ban on paddy straw burning within a time frame of two years,” it said.

Also, the States have been asked to provide incentives and subsidy for innovative methods available to avoid stubble burning. The EPCA asked the Centre to support the proposal from Punjab and Haryana to provide 50 per cent subsidy on price of new agricultural equipment “Zero till seeding fertiliser machine” or “Rotavator”, which stop burning of left-over straw after harvesting, fertilise the soil by capturing carbon, the CSE said.

The EPCA said it would monitor the progress on compliance of these directions every six months.

In separate meetings with the officials concerned in the NCR region (Ghaziabad, Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad), the EPCA directed stringent action on gross polluting vehicles.

Officials of the respective transport departments will organise inspection at five border points – NH-8 Border, NH-24 Border, Singhu Border, Tikri Border and Badarpur Border – and stop any vehicle emitting dark smoke from entering or exiting the border and take action against defaulters.

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 12, 2012)
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