Smog engulfs Punjab with rise in stubble burning incidents
The 10 worst-affected districts in Punjab have reported around 5,700 incidents in past three days only.
Notwithstanding the efforts of the Punjab government to check stubble burning in the state in the wake of a ban by the National Green Tribunal, the rise in the number of incidents of crop residue burning in the past few days has resulted in smog engulfing the state.
There has been a remarkable rise in the number of such incidents in the state in the past three days alone.
The districts of Bathinda, Muktsar, Patiala, Sangrur, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Ludhiana, Mansa and Fatehgarh Sahib are leading in the incidence of paddy straw burning.
As per the data of Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, Ludhiana, there have been over 19,000 incidents of paddy straw burning in the state till October 29.
The 10 districts have witnessed 5,699 such incidents in the past three days only. The figure is set to witness a further rise in the coming days. Meanwhile, commuters had a tough time in various parts of the state as visibility on the roads has been reduced due to smog.
Officials in the agriculture department said the rise in stubble burning is due to the field staff going lenient and paddy harvesting gaining pace. This is despite the efforts of the state machinery to check the problem and teams making rounds of villages to keep a tab on the situation.
However, farmers haven’t deterred from stubble burning despite appeals and penal action by the state government. Farmers’ unions are demanding a financial assistance of Rs 300 per quintal or Rs 6,000 per acre to manage the stubble without burning it. In Mansa district, 39 farmers have been penalised while 42 in Bathinda and 53 in Muktsar have been identified for straw burning.
Agriculture director Jasbir Singh said paddy stubble in the initial phase of crop harvesting was managed to a greater extent without burning but now farmers are resorting to burning it.
“With the ongoing efforts, we will be able to reduce the stubble burning incidents to about 25%. The expenditure on managing the stubble without burning is a major concern,” he said.
Doing our best to educate farmers: PPCB chairman
Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) chairman Kahan Singh Pannu said, “The post-Diwali period has witnessed a rise in the number of incidents of paddy straw burning. We are doing our best to educate the farmers and have appealed them not to resort to stubble burning.”
He added, “The pollution level in state right now has crossed the level that was at the time of Diwali. Stubble burning coupled with fall in temperature and zero wind velocity has made the things worse.”
BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) leader Shingara Singh Mann said farmers have waited for a long to get a helping hand from the government to avoid paddy straw burning, but to no avail. They are now left with no option, but to burn it as they have to prepare fields for the next crop also.”
Incidence falls by 30%, Punjab tells NGT
Meanwhile, the PPCB told the NGT in New Delhi that stubble burning in Punjab has dropped by 30% this year as compared to last year, a PTI report said. The PPCB told a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that there were 14,432 cases of burning of crop residue till October 27 this year as compared to 22,269 cases in 2016.