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Preponing paddy transplantation in Punjab to help improve air quality, says NGT

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: November 8, 2019  | 17:52 IST

New Delhi, Nov 8 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal has declined to pass order on a plea challenging Punjab government's notification preponing paddy transplantation by a week saying it will provide more window for the next crop and help improve air quality. In the June 4 notification, the state government advanced paddy sowing date to June 13 from June 20 following requests from various farmers' organisations which had been complaining of high moisture level in the crop because of late sowing. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said: "The fact remains that preponing the date will have more window for the next crop and help in the air quality. In view of above, we do not find any ground to pass any further order." The Thursday order came despite a report submitted by a committee which said that shifting of transplanting date to June 20 will help save groundwater and check air pollution due to stubble burning. The committee set up by the NGT, comprising representatives of the Central Pollution Control Board, Punjab pollution control board and a scientist each named by the Punjab Agriculture University and the Haryana Agriculture University, said that availability of short duration varieties helps save water. "Further, straw burning issue is also resolved due to availability of straw management technologies which allows for retention/incorporation/ removal of straw without resorting to burning. "Thus, shifting of transplanting date to June 20 would help save groundwater resources and would not add to air pollution due to stubble burning," said the report. The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Punjab resident Jai Gopal Dhiman challenging the notification issued by state government on June 4, 2019 advancing the date of transplantation of paddy crop from June 20 to June 13 each year. The plea, filed through advocate Cauveri Birbal, said the notification has been issued without any basis and without application of mind completely ignoring the alarming condition of depleting groundwater level in the state of Punjab. The applicant has relied upon a report prepared by the Department of Water Resources and Central Ground Water Authority to the effect that 79 per cent area of Punjab is over-exploited in respect of ground water. Depletion of ground water needs to be avoided. The date of June 20, 2019 was earlier fixed on recommendation of the state pollution control board and the Punjab Agriculture University and preponing it is not justified, it said. "One of the main reasons for depletion of groundwater in the state of Punjab has been early transplantation of paddy which makes use of groundwater instead of the monsoon water. "Transplantation of paddy in the early days of June makes the crop dependant on the groundwater as the monsoon is yet to arrive. Water requirement of paddy is much higher than that of alternative crops," the plea said. PTI PKS SA

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