Punjab has 80% of stubble burning cases in North India: Central body
With the spike in farm fires, the air quality index of the state has also started deteriorating.
Punjab has once again achieved the notorious distinction of having the highest number of stubble burning cases in North India.
Data compiled by the commission for air quality management in national capital region and adjoining areas shows that out of the 15,461 cases recorded in the North Indian states and Madhya Pradesh, so far this season, Punjab logged 12,112 (nearly 80%) cases. It was followed by Haryana with 1,813 cases, Uttar Pradesh 705, Madhya Pradesh 599, Rajasthan 227 and Delhi five.
Meanwhile, Punjab also saw a major spike in stubble burning cases on Saturday with 1,898 fires being detected by the remote sensing centre’s satellites. The figure was higher than what was recorded on this day over the last two years. On October 29, 2021, Punjab had recorded 1, 353 active fire events while on the same day in 2021, the state had 1,541 cases.
On Saturday, majority of the cases came from Malwa belt, with the Sangrur— the home turf of chief minister Bhagwant Mann—again recording the highest number of farm fires in the state. Sangrur recorded 286, followed by neighbouring district Patiala (268), Barnala (109), Bathinda (108), Ludhiana (105) cases, Ferozpur (104) and Fathegarh Sahib (99).
In Majha, Tarn Taran recorded 192 cases, while Amritsar recorded 51 and Gurdaspur recorded 45 cases. In Doaba, Jalandhar and Kapurthala recorded 99 cases each, while Hoshiarpur recorded 45 cases of stubble burning.
With the spike in farm fires, the air quality index of the state has also started deteriorating. A thin layer of smog was seen in rural belts of Punjab, where harvest has almost reached completion, and may start appearing in cities over the next two days, a PPCB official.
“Smog is clearly visible in the rural areas. Farmers are defying the ban as there is no punitive action against erring farmers,” admitted a Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) official.
He said that PPCB shares daily reports with the district administrations, but there is hardly any punitive action as officials are worried about their safety as farmer unions gherao officials who challan them.
Angrej Singh, a Nabha-based farmer, said, “We have no other choice but to clear the field as the window between paddy harvest and wheat sowing is very narrow. “I was planning to make bales, but no bailer was available, so I opted to set the crop residue on fire. It clears my field in a single day.”
He said adding that the Punjab government should set up industries which can turn stubble into fuel as farmers can’t afford to spend extra money for in-situ handling of straw, which costs ₹2,000 per acre of land.