New Delhi: With the news report pouring in that the incidents of stubble burning still continuing in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday chaired a high-level meeting with officials through Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) to tackle the issue of stubble burning. During the meeting, PM Modi directed the officials of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare to distribute equipment to farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh UP on a priority basis.

The development comes as the Supreme Court earlier in the day pulled up the state governments of Punjab and Haryana for not taking enough steps to stop stubble burning which led to the depletion of air quality in the national capital and asked it to ensure that this does not happen in the future.

A bench headed by Justice Mishra was hearing the issue of air pollution in New Delhi and other parts of north India. During the hearing, the apex court summoned the chief secretary of Delhi, Punjab, and Haryana today.

Taking cognizance of the matter of stubble burning, the top court slammed the state governments and said “Why was the government not ready in advance? It seems no steps are taken throughout the year.”

Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing the government, told the court that “200 thousand farmers cannot be controlled”. He suggested that Punjab and Haryana be divided into zones and each zone be allowed to burn stubble on specific days allotted to them.

Meanwhile, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal also urged PM Modi to allow MPs provide financial assistance to farmers in their constituencies for buying machinery to dispose of crop residue cleanly.

In a letter to the prime minister, the Union food processing minister said stubble burning was continuing unabated across North India as the farmers could not afford the expensive stubble cleaning and super seeder machines.

Urging the PM to take all measures needed to address the serious issue of stubble burning, the minister said if MPs were allowed to purchase balers and other associated machinery for Panchayats and groups of farmers, it would go a long way in improving the environment.