New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to respond to the plea that a part of Rs 75,000 crore available with it under the National Clean Energy and Environment Fund (NCEEF) be utilised for the purchase of Turbo Happy Seeder machines for farmers for cutting standing paddy stubble as an alternate to stubble burning.
The Turbo Happy Seeder machines are mounted on tractors, which cut and lift standing stubble, drill holes in the soil and sows the wheat seeds and deposit straw over the sown area as mulch cover.
The bench of Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice M.R. Shah sought the response from the Centre as counsel Gopal Shankarnarayanan told the court that the expectation that the farmers would bear the expenses to buy the seeder machines as an alternative to much cheaper option of burning of stubble was unlikely to succeed.
The Centre has to submit its response on February 26 – the next date of hearing.
Shankarnarayanan said that the seeder machines could be handed over to the panchayats which in turn would give it to the farmers for cutting the standing stubble instead of burning them as is a prevailing practice.
The counsel said it was a better alternative to raising the awareness of the framers towards the adverse impact of stubble burning on the already alarming level of air pollution in the Indo-Gangatic plains including penalising them for any violation.
Telling the court that farmers could not be expected to shell out Rs one lakh plus for the purchase of seeder machines for cutting and lifting standing stubble, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) counsel Vijay Panjwani said that the “state has to take it over and control stubble burning.
Shankarnarayanan, appearing for a toddler — Arjun Gopal — seeking ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of the firecrackers across the country, gave the example of American State of California where the assistance of metrological department was taken to advise the famers on the burning of stubble depending on the direction of the wind which in 1980s was as bad as Delhi is witnessing now.
The court was on Wednesday told that the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has signed an MoU with some firecracker manufacturers for the production of green firecrackers with reduced emission and decibel levels.
Under the MoU, the NEERI would characterise the raw material to be used in the manufacture of firecrackers and test and certify the finished products.
The top court by its October 23, 2018, order while refusing to impose a blanket ban on bursting of firecrackers, had allowed the use of only green firecrackers with reduced emission and decibel levels during all religious festivals.