Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking compensation for farmers for crop resident management, with a view to check stubble burning, one of the major contributors to the toxic smog currently enshrouding northern India.
Singh also requested the prime minister to convene a meeting of the chief ministers of the affected states along with the Union Ministers for Agriculture, Food and Environment on the issue.
Reiterating his earlier request, the chief minister sought a bonus of Rs. 100 per quintal as incentive to compensate the farmers to manage the crop residue scientifically, instead of burning paddy straw.
He added that that the problem was essentially scientific and economic, and thus, could not be tackled through other means, including coercion.
Scientific management and disposal of paddy straw entails significant cost for the farmers and the cheaper and easy solution of burning the crop residue is `naturally preferred`, said Captain Amarinder, adding that there were no technical or biological systems for managing this farm operation that were economically attractive to the farmer.
Pointing out that the current pollution crisis was largely triggered by burning of paddy straw in the paddy-growing areas of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, the chief minister called upon the prime minister to get the matter examined on priority and announce a compensation of cost management of crop residue at Rs. 100/- per quintal on wheat (above MSP), and later for paddy to incentivise the farmers to not burn their crop residue.
This could be released by way of Direct Benefit Transfer to farmers after due verification, he suggested in the letter.Speaking to ANI, Captain Amarinder Singh said it was the third letter he had written to Prime Minister Modi on this issue.On his request for providing compensation to farmers, he said the proposed move was essential as the Punjab Government was helpless in taking action alone unless the NGT or the Centre provided compensation.
He also refuted any possibility of a meeting with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying the issue of pollution crisis had "nothing to do with Mr. Kejriwal, as it is a much bigger issue involving all states contributing to pollution."
Kejriwal, in a Twitter interaction with the Punjab Chief Minister earlier in the day, had sought a meeting with him to discuss the issue of smog, to which the Punjab counterpart reasoned that the issue could only be solved by the Central Government.
The Delhi Chief Minister also stated that the Punjab Government should give subsidy on loans to farmers to tackle the issue.
"Mr. Kejriwal is a peculiar person who has views on everything without understanding the situation. There is 20 million tonne of paddy straw. Where do I ask the farmers to store it? So Mr. Kejriwal doesn`t understand this problem," Singh said, in response.