Supreme Court suggests MSP penalty for stubble-burning offenders
Stubble Burning: The court argues that economic repercussions could deter farmers from indulging in activities contributing to the worsening air quality.
Stubble-Burning: In a significant development during a hearing on the escalating air pollution crisis in Delhi-NCR, the Supreme Court has floated the idea of denying Minimum Support Price (MSP) benefits to farmers engaged in stubble burning.
The court argues that economic repercussions could deter farmers from indulging in activities contributing to the worsening air quality.
“Why Reward Law Violators?” – SC Questions MSP for Stubble Burning Farmers
A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia raised a pertinent query during the hearing: “Why should people who violate the law get economic benefits?” This thought led to the suggestion that paddy, a significant agricultural product, should not be made available under the MSP system for farmers practising stubble burning.
Economic Deterrent to Curb Farm Fires
Justice Kaul expressed, “The stick must also follow the carrot. Why should people who continue violating the law be allowed to benefit monetarily?” The proposal aims to align economic incentives with environmental responsibility, suggesting that financial penalties could be an effective deterrent against recurrent farm fires.
Concerns for Farmers: Villainising vs. Understanding
Justice Dhulia brought attention to the vilification of farmers, particularly from Punjab, suggesting that they are often condemned without being provided a platform to voice their concerns. He proposed that resources should be allocated to help farmers understand the problem, urging a balanced perspective.
Challenges to Punjab Government’s Approach
The bench questioned the Punjab government’s decision to make crop residue management 100 per cent free, highlighting the practical challenges. It emphasised that merely providing machinery might not be sufficient, pointing out associated costs like diesel and manpower. The court urged Punjab to consider Haryana’s model of providing financial incentives to discourage stubble burning.
State’s Duty: Funding Machinery for Poor Farmers
Asserting the state’s responsibility, the court suggested that for economically challenged farmers, the state should fully fund machinery. It also drew attention to the depleting water table in Punjab, stressing the need for farmers to understand the consequences of persistent paddy cultivation.
Call for Political Unity: Rising Above Blame Games
The Supreme Court urged both the central and state governments to transcend political differences and collaborate on finding viable solutions to combat crop residue burning. The court warned of dire consequences, including arid land and water depletion, if the blame game persists.
Next Steps: Committee Intervention and Compliance on Vehicle Stickers
The bench directed a committee chaired by the cabinet secretary to delve into issues like non-implementation of colour-coded stickers for vehicles, urging better compliance from states. It also instructed the committee to examine aspects related to construction at private sites.
The matter is scheduled for the next hearing on December 5.
(With ANI Inputs)