Come festive season and with it comes a host of other problems as well.
The burning of paddy straw coupled with Diwali festivities has resulted in rise in number of asthma and respiratory infection cases. Despite the ban, some farmers are still burning paddy stubble without thinking about its harmful effects.
When this reporter paid a visit to some of the villages nearby, the fields were found filled with ash. Farmers claimed that they were forced to burn the stubble, as they had no other option.
Doctors in city say that number of patients visiting clinics double during this time.
A consultant at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, Dr Akashdeep Singh said that around 30 patients with asthma and respiratory tract problems visit hospitals during these days as compared to other days, where only 15-18 cases were reported.
He said burning paddy stubble could add to the asthma patients' woes adding that it could cause respiratory problems, cough, cold and other allergies and advised people to keep themselves safe from pollution.
Didar Singh, a senior citizen demanded strict ban on burning of paddy stubble.
He said, "I have myself suffered several times due to burning of stubble. The departments concerned should implemented the ban in a proper way."
Deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari said he has instructed the officials concerned regarding the ban on burning of paddy stubble.
Commissioner of police Ishwar Singh, however, said that no case has been registered so far as none of the case of burning paddy straw has come to light.
What farmers, experts have to say
Manu, who is a farmer, said, "Some farmers are still burning paddy stubble, as they think it is useful to sow the next crop. Small farmers cannot afford a machine to sow wheat crop and if they use these machines there will be no need to burn paddy stubble." He added that it was difficult for them to take the machine on rent, as they do not earn that much.
Dr Gursahib Singh Manes, a senior research engineer-cum-head of the farm machinery and power engineering department at PAU, Ludhiana, advised farmers not to burn paddy stubble as essential elements and soil-friendly worms also die during the process. He said burning causes several allergies and other problems. He advised farmers to use various machines, which were available on rent.
He said, "The burning of rice straw results in loss of 100% Nitrogen, 80% Sulphur and 20% Phosphorous and Potassium. It is estimated that in Punjab alone, about 1.5 lakh tonnes of Nitrogen and Sulphur in the residues are lost during burning, costing more than Rs. 150 crore at the prevailing prices. Apart from huge loss of precious plant nutrients, burning of crop residues causes environmental pollution and depletes soil health."
He further added there were several methods to handle paddy stubble as farmers can use several machines. He said Happy Seeder Machine sows wheat directly in paddy residue in combine-harvested field and added that farmers can use Paddy Straw Chopper Machine to chop paddy stubble to small pieces or they can use Baler, a machine that helps to collect paddy stubble, which can then be taken at any place easily. He said the paddy stubble could be used at thermal plants, biogas, for cropping of mushrooms and can be put to various others uses.