Ban order on stubble burning goes for a toss

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Hoshiarpur
  • Updated: May 29, 2014 21:39 IST

Despite a ban on the burning of crop stubble after the harvesting season, farmers in the district are openly resorting to this practice to clear wheat residue in their fields.

Interestingly, not even a single case of violation has been registered across the district and officials claim that they have not received any complaint either from the pollution control board or public.

Smoke billowing from the fields engulfs the surrounding areas and pollutes the atmosphere causing respiratory disorder and other health-related problems.

Those violating the government orders are supposed to be booked under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.

The authorities concerned, on the other hand, have adopted a lenient approach towards farmers violating the law.

If agriculture officials are to be believed, the extent of stubble burning in the district has been small this year. Agriculture officer Dr Chaman Lal Vashisht said that as per the estimate of the department, out of 1.4 lakh hectares of land under wheat cultivation, straw was burnt only in 300-400 hectares.

"During our camps, we make farmers aware of the ill-effects of stubble burning on the fertility of their soil, besides the over-all environmental impact it has. Gradually, farmers are waking up to the problem," he said.

To discourage farmers from stubble burning, the agriculture department had suggested a number of measures but farmers did not find them viable.

Punjab Agriculture University experts had come up with a technology to produce biogas from rice straw but it hardly found any takers. The department tried to popularise "happy seeder" but the farmers again found it too expensive. Despite best efforts, the department could persuade only two or three big farmers to buy the equipment in the district. Encouraging farmers to diversify from wheat and paddy cycle was another alternative programme by agriculture and environment experts but they did not succeeding in it.

The farmers are, however, showing interest in rotavators which the department is providing at subsidised rates. This farm machine ensures decomposition of the crop residue by cutting it into very small pieces.

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