Ignoring state government’s warning, farmers in Kapurthala are burning stable in fields despite the ban. The farmers are overlooking health related risks and affects on soil potency.
Even Punjab and Haryana high court had issued direction to Punjab government ensuring prevention of said practice. Not a single case was registered this year or last year against farmers for causing air pollution.
As per Punjab Pollution Control Board’s (PPCB) directions, burning of paddy straw is banned in the state and farmers violating will be booked under Section 188 (disobedience order promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and the Air (prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1981.
However, a visit to fields across the district over past week revealed that most farmers burnt the straw, resulting in low visibility, on roads adjacent to fields.
As authorities concerned do not pay visits to the field to check this malpractice, farmers are not taking directions seriously.
“Government does not want to face ire of farmers ahead of assembly elections, so no case is being registered,” said sources in the agriculture department.
“We have issued directions to farmers and agriculture department is organising awareness campaigns,” said superintendent of police (investigation), Balbir Singh.
“Strict action will be taken against violators this time,” he said.
“We can only create awareness, for that we are organising special campaigns,” said Kapurthala chief agriculture officer (CAO) Ravail Singh.
“A camp was held in Sultanpur Lodhi on Tuesday in this regard,” said the CAO. “The agriculture department will hold camps at block levels from October 20,” he said.
“We are motivating farmers to use subsidized alternatives. Machines including balers, happy seeders, reversible plough, and straw chopper are available with the department,” he added.
GRAVITY OF THE PROBLEM
Experts in agriculture department told, stubble burning is not only injurious to health but is also harmful to farmers due to environmental hazards, as several friendly pests that save crops, are burnt in the burning process.
Harnaik Singh, a farmer from Phagwara justified the act and said most of the wheat straw is used as dry fodder for cattle while a small part of paddy straw is utilised in generating power at biomass thermal plants.
“The remaining is set on fire in the fields. Owing to high silica content, paddy straw cannot be directly fed to animals,” he said.