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Home / Chandigarh / Punjab initiates action in 13% stubble burning incidents

Punjab initiates action in 13% stubble burning incidents

Against 22,458 incidents of paddy straw burning, action has been initiated against 2,923 errant farmers; air quality dips in most cities

chandigarh Updated: Nov 03, 2019 22:59 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber and Avtar Singh
Gurpreet Singh Nibber and Avtar Singh
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Farmer burning paddy stubble at Magwal village in Sangrur on Sunday.
Farmer burning paddy stubble at Magwal village in Sangrur on Sunday.(Bharat Bhushan/ht)

Despite widespread public outcry for action, the Punjab government has taken punitive action against the erring farmers in 2,923 of the 22,458 incidents of stubble burning reported from across the state.

These include 202 FIRs, 1,136 red entries made in revenue records and imposition of penalty totalling 41.62 lakh on 1,585 farmers. The state officers have visited a total of 11,286 stubble burning spots.

As per official information, Tarn Taran district is the worst affected district with 2,614 incidents of stubble fires. Besides 87 FIRs, fine amounting to Rs 5.27 lakh has been imposed against the offenders in 211 cases.

In Ferozepur and Sangrur districts, there were reports of 2,559 and 2,508 farm fires till November 1. While Sangrur district administration imposed Rs 8.82 lakh fine in 353 cases, the highest across the state, no FIR has been registered against any offender so far.

In SAS Nagar and Moga districts, 56 and 54 FIRs have been registered against the defaulters, respectively.

In Fatehgarh Sahib, 21 farmers have been booked for burning paddy straw.

Meanwhile, air quality has dipped to ‘very poor’ in several cities of the state as per the national air quality index (AQI). Owing to cloud cover on Saturday, the thermal images of stubble burning could not be recorded.

The number of paddy straw burning cases recorded so far in the current season is almost equal to the corresponding figure of 22,500 of the previous season.

Officials of the state agriculture department and Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) said that farmers were defiant and belied their hopes of a visible change as subsidised machinery had been given to them for in-situ management of paddy.

Agriculture secretary Kahan Singh Pannu said that 1,300 officers and other staff members of his department were out in the field to stop stubble fires by persuading farmers. “The situation is worrisome because farmers are not stopping,” he said.

The department has also imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh each on the 31 combine harvester machines which were without super straw management system.

Additional chief secretary (development) Vishwajeet Khanna said due to zero wind conditions and high moisture content in the atmosphere, the particulate matter was suspended close to the ground, making the scenario bad to worse.

Out of fires recorded by satellites, 3,000 could not be tracked which means those were not stubble fires, he claimed. As the deadline for wheat sowing is coming closer, farmers are desperate to prepare their fields and are resorting to stubble burning. As per current weather conditions, the best time for wheat sowing will be from November 10 to 20.

FARMERS DODGING OFFICIALS

BATHINDA As a blanket of smog continued to engulf various districts of Malwa region on Sunday, authorities in Fazilka felt helpless in initiating action against farmers for burning paddy stubbles.

Against the 368 active fires spotted in Fazilka, the authorities were able to serve notices to only three farmers.

Sharvan Singh, a block-level official coordinating the drive against stubble burning, said farmers are leaving no evidence of fire in their fields.

“As per the protocol, our teams visit the active fire spots detected through satellite imagery. In several cases, we couldn’t find physical evidence of fires in the fields. We are unable to initiate action as farmers till their lands and flood it with water thus leaving no physical proof of fire,” said the official.

As per the Central Pollution Control Board’s data, air quality index (AQI) in Bathinda was recorded at 296 on Sunday evening, tagged as ‘poor’.