Farmer leaders in Punjab alleged that both the central and state governments have failed to establish adequate measures for stubble management.
They asserted that the decline in air quality in Delhi is primarily attributed to vehicular and industrial pollution, not agricultural fires.
Furthermore, the farmer leaders on Wednesday emphasized the necessity for governments to ensure a minimum support price for alternative crops like maize and pulses. They argued that this would incentivize farmers to shift away from cultivating the water-intensive paddy crop, which is not indigenous to Punjab.
Their remarks came a day after the Supreme Court, while hearing a matter related to stubble burning, observed farmers are being made "villains" and that they have not been heard.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia had also suggested why should there be any purchase under the minimum support price (MSP) system from farmers who indulge in crop residue burning, irrespective of the fact that citizens and children were affected due to pollution.
Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan Wednesday said neither the Centre nor the Punjab government is doing anything concrete on the stubble management issue.
"Not only crop residue management machinery in sufficient numbers along with manpower, incentives should also be given to farmers for management of paddy straw,” Kokrikalan said.
He said Punjab farmers are unnecessarily being blamed for pollution in Delhi, asserting that it was vehicular and industrial pollution which plays a major role in polluting air in the national capital region.
"Punjab has no role in Delhi pollution," Kokrikalan said, questioning how then the air quality index can be better in an area in Punjab where stubble is burnt in comparison to AQI in the national capital.
He said that if the governments ensure proper and adequate arrangements for stubble management, then action can be taken against any farmer burning paddy straw.
"If the governments cannot make required arrangements, then farmers should not be blamed,” he said.
The farmer leader said the governments should take action against factories which emit smoke that cause air pollution instead of farmers.
"The suggestion was being made that farmers who burn stubble should not be given MSP. But there is no action against factories which emit smoke. Why are fines not being imposed and cases being registered against such erring factories,” he asked.
Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal sought financial incentive to farmers to curb stubble burning.
"Farmers should be given financial incentives for the management of stubble,” he said.
Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana is considered one of the reasons behind the alarming spike in air pollution levels in the national capital in October and November.
As the window for wheat cultivation - a key Rabi crop - is very short after paddy harvest, some farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the crop residue.