Showing scant regard for the pollution norms, farmers in the interiors of Ludhiana district continue to burn paddy straw causing heavy air-pollution and affecting the soil fertility. While entering roads in the rural interiors, one finds it difficult to negotiate thier way as roads are engulfed in dense smog scattered all over the fields throughout the day. On the other hand the officials of Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) claim that they have contained the stubble burning.
To carry out a reality check, HT team visited villages in Dakha, Raikot and Jagraon and Sarabha and spotted around a dozen places where fire was raised on in the fields. The visibility on roads was quite poor due to the dense smog on the roads and posed a serious risk for the commuters as well as pedestrians.
Balbir Singh Seechewal, renowned eco-activist said, “Clean air is the most important thing in human life and if we are forced to inhale polluted air, we will be subjected to numerous health issues. With excessive stubble burning, the visibility on roads is quite poor now.”
Seechewal added, “Disposing the paddy residue in the soil and treating them with agro equipment can turn it into manure which can be utilised in the fields for increasing the fertility of soil. We have managed to encourage few farmers to follow the technique but the required farm equipment for this process are quite expensive and therefore not every farmer can afford them. The role of government comes into picture here and it must provide subsidies/funds to farmers so that they can avail these farm equipment on cheaper rates. As for now burning of straw is not just causing heavy air pollution but also burning essential nutrients present in the soil which keep it fertile. The problem can only be contained if government and farmers work jointly to contain the menace of stubble burning.”
On their part farmers express inability to dispose of paddy residue by means other than burning. This has caused heavy air pollution, smog and poses serious threat to health such as breathing, allergies and asthma. The stubble burning causes emission of smoke and toxic gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane and nitrous oxide. It also leads to poor soil health by eliminating essential nutrients, say experts.
Gulshan Rai, chief engineer, PPCB, without sharing the exact figures of challans, said, “We have been issuing challans to the farmers indulging in paddy straw burning.”