With paddy straw burning taking air pollution to alarming levels in the national capital and northern states, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday took a swipe at his Delhi counterpart, saying “Arvind 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 farmers to store? So Mr Kejriwal doesn't understand this problem,” Amarinder Singh was quoted as saying.
Earlier on Wednesday, Kejriwal and Capt Amarinder engaged in a Twitter conversation over the rising levels of smog in the national capital.
“My office continuously trying to take time from CMs of Punjab n Haryana for me to meet the two CMs. Its an emergency(sic)," Kejriwal had tweeted hours after he sent a letter to Captain Amarinder Singh and Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar.
The Punjab Chief Minister, who had earlier refused to penalise farmers for stubble burning, said he shared Kejriwal's concern but the state was helpless.
“Share your concern over stubble burning and pollution @ArvindKejriwal, Centre alone can solve the problem given its national implications(sic)," he tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Punjab CM today again urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene, saying the issue of straw burning could not be tackled through means such as coercion.
He sought a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal as incentive to compensate the farmers to manage crop residue scientifically.
The chief minister has written to Modi, seeking compensation for the farmers for crop resident management to check the dangerous trend of stubble burning, which has triggered a major smog crisis in the northern belt of the country, an official release.
Singh had made this similar request to the prime minister on July 5, it said.
He also urged Modi to convene a meeting of chief ministers of the affected states along with the Union ministers for agriculture, food and environment on the issue.
Singh's statement came a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sought a meeting with him and Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar to discuss ways to tackle air pollution levels in the national capital.
The Punjab chief minister said most of north India, including Delhi, is currently in the throes of a pollution crisis, induced largely by burning of straw in the paddy-growing areas of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
The higher courts of the country and the National Green Tribunal have also taken cognisance of the matter, he observed.
"However, what is probably not being understood in proper perspective is that a problem which is essentially scientific and economic cannot be tackled through other means, including coercion," Singh said.
Scientific management and disposal of paddy straw entails significant cost for the farmer and he naturally prefers the cheaper and easy solution of burning the crop residue, he said, adding that there are at present no technical or biological systems for managing this farm operation that are economically attractive to the farmer.
The chief minister had earlier assured farmers that no case would be registered against them for burning crop residue.
He called upon the prime minister to get the matter examined on a priority basis and announce a compensation of cost management of crop residue at the rate of Rs 100 per quintal on wheat (above the minimum support price), and later for paddy to incentivise farmers not to burn their crop residue.