A Punjab court has let off a farmer found guilty of stubble burning, a practice said to be responsible for the increasing air pollution in Delhi and its surrounding areas, after extracting a promise that he will desist from doing so in the future.
Patiala District and Sessions Judge Rajinder Aggarwal pronounced the judgment while overturning the verdict of a lower court at Rajpura sentencing Balwinder Singh from Ghanaur to one-month imprisonment with a fine of Rs 1,000.
The farmer was released after he provided a Rs 20,000 probation bond and a guarantee from a witness. He was also made to give a written undertaking that he will not indulge in the polluting practice for two years.
The police had registered a case against Balwinder Singh on October 24, 2016, for allegedly burning paddy stubble in violation of prohibitory orders issued by the Patiala District Magistrate. The Rajpura court later sentenced the farmer to one month in jail.
Sources said judge Rajinder Aggarwal's lenient approach was aimed at giving the farmer community a gentle push towards implementing alternative methods of stubble disposal instead of coming down on them in a forceful manner.
However, the Ghanaur Station House Officer has been told to keep Balwinder Singh under close scrutiny and report back if he violates prohibitory orders again, in which case action will be taken against him in accordance with the law.
Pollution levels in Delhi and its surrounding areas rise to hazardous levels between October and December every year due to various factors, including stubble burning. The Supreme Court has asked states such as Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to clamp down on the practice through incentives and technological means, without causing undue burden to farmers.