New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has expressed regret for not involving the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in finalising the national policy for controlling and preventing pollution resulting from burning of agricultural remnants in open fields.
A bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the Additional Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture to call a meeting comprising members of MoEF and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within one week and finalise the draft national policy.
The tribunal has listed the matter for hearing on September 25.
"We must notice it with regret that the inter-relation between the Ministry and the Corporation on such national issues is expected to be more effective and result oriented.
"One cannot even think of a reason why the Ministry of Agriculture should not have involved the MoEF in the process of finalising the National Policy. It was equally the duty of the MoEF to be vigilant in furtherance to the orders of the Tribunal," the bench said.
The tribunal's observation came after the counsel for MoEF informed the bench that it was not invited to any of the meetings that have finalised the national policy.
During the hearing, the Ministry of Agriculture told the tribunal that draft guidelines for controlling pollution arising from crop burning have been prepared in consultation with the CPCB.
Earlier, the tribunal had directed the Agriculture Ministry to hold a meeting of all the states and prepare "composite" guidelines for preventing the pollution caused by straw burning, which allegedly is one of the reasons for the smog in Delhi.
NGT was hearing a plea by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad seeking a ban on burning of agricultural waste/remnants in open fields.
Tongad has alleged that burning of agricultural residue, like straw, in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh caused air pollution not only in these states but is also a major cause of smog in the National Capital Region of Delhi.
In his plea, Tongad has sought directions to authorities concerned as well as the states to take steps to stop practice of burning of agricultural residue/bio-mass.