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Thursday, 1 October 2020

Which dept will take action against violators? No clarity

Ravinder Saini

Tribune News Service

Rohtak, September 30

There is uncertainty as to which department will take punitive action against farmers for burning paddy stubble, as the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) has been learnt to be “running away” from its duty of lodging cases against violators.

In a communiqué sent to the Director General (Environment) on August 7, the Additional Chief Secretary (Agriculture) had said, “Now, it has been decided that the punitive actions i.e. lodging FIRs issuing challans and other enforcement measures under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 will be taken by the Environment Department.”

Sources said the Environment Department later wrote to the HSPCB, asking it to take punitive action against erring farmers.

Since burning of crop residue was a violation of the Act, issuing challans and lodging FIRs against violators were the responsibility of the HSPCB, the sources said, adding the board could not run away from its duty.

The HSPCB, however, denied having the authority to lodge FIRs against farmers.

S Narayanan, member secretary, HSPCB, told The Tribune: “The board does not have the power to lodge cases. Only government departments can do so. As for issuing challans, the NGT has already passed an order that only district-level committees, comprising officers of the Revenue and Agriculture Departments, can impose fine on farmers.”

He also cited shortage of staff as another reason for the HSPCB’s inability to take action. “We have only one officer in every district.” Narayanan said the HSPCB had written to the Director General, Department of Environment, in this regard. “The state government has been urged to take a decision.”

Rohtas Singh, Deputy Director (Agriculture), said the department would spread awareness among farmers against stubble-burning, while the HSPCB would take punitive action against violators.

from The Tribune

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