New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal directed the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to inform it how much agricultural residue, in “pellet” form, it can use as raw material along with coal in power plants for power generation. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh governments to take instructions on the possibility of power plants collecting agriculture residue from the fields and converting it into fuel.
Pellet form is the terminology used for compressed form of agriculture residue. The green panel also directed the NTPC to submit complete details of its total coal requirement on per day basis. It also ordered the state governments to ensure presence of representatives from all the thermal power plants in their areas on the next date of hearing – November 21. The NGT had earlier said, “We expect no individual, body, department, panchayat, association to directly or indirectly recommend or promote burning of crop residue in Punjab, UP and Haryana.”
It had said the “serious” issue of stubble burning by farmers was still going on and had sought the response of the Centre as well as the Punjab and Haryana governments on the issue. It had sought the names and details of all power houses and biomass-based energy plants which could use crop residue for electricity generation and had directed the Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab governments to provide a detailed strategy of how “happy seeders” (machines to sow wheat without burning of paddy crop residue) or “balers” could be given to farmers.
The tribunal had also sought a reply from the NTPC as to why it could not take the stubble from the farmers under its corporate social responsibility programme for the “general cause of environment”. The tribunal had taken exception to the fact that even after more than two years, nothing substantial has been done with regard to the issue of stubble burning.
The Punjab government had earlier said it had taken Kalar Majri village in Nabha Tehsil of Patiala district as a model project for implementing the directions of the NGT and to sensitise the farmers. The NGT had warned the governments of the Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan governments that it would stop the payment of salaries of government officials if they failed to come up with an action plan to prevent stubble burning, which triggers heavy pollution in Delhi-NCR.