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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Stubble trouble: Punjab asks top officials to monitor situation

chandigarh Updated: Oct 07, 2019 23:25 IST
 HT Correspondent
 HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
With paddy harvest underway, approximately 350 cases of stubble burning have been reported from the state.
With paddy harvest underway, approximately 350 cases of stubble burning have been reported from the state.(HT FILE)
         

The Punjab government will depute top officers of the state heading different departments, as in-charge of the districts in the state to monitor activities related to coordination and curbing of paddy residue burning during the ongoing kharif harvest season, it said on Monday.

These officers include additional chief secretaries (ACS) and principal secretaries. The ACS rank officers are Vini Mahajan, Viswajeet Khannna, Ravneet Kaur and Sanjay Kumar who are incharge of Ludhiana, Sangrur, Nawanshahr and Mansa districts.  

With paddy harvest underway, approximately 350 cases of stubble burning have been reported from the state, causing concern for the state government, especially when the Centre has given Punjab and Haryana a two-year deadline and all possible help to achieve it.

Agriculture department is of the view that deputy commissioners in all districts are directly responsible for coordinating and monitoring efforts towards controlling stubble burning, but the presence of senior officers will supplement and help take the cause further.

 In the scheme that began last year, a sum of Rs 1,150 crore was sanctioned, of which Punjab received Rs665 crore to be spent over two years, to provide machines for in-situ management of paddy stubble. “Despite our best efforts, paddy burning has not stopped. Now, the government has deputed senior officers to persuade and motivate farmers against burning stubble,” said a senior agriculture department officer.

 Cabinet secretary monitoring situation  The cabinet secretary, government of India, is monitoring the situation of stubble burning on a day-to-day basis. Last week, he connected to Punjab and Haryana officials via video conference, asking them to keep close watch. A state government official said the PMO is also monitoring the situation.

“The state is under a tremendous pressure from the Centre to curb the burning. It is worrisome for the state government that despite efforts and subsidies, matters are not under control,” said an officer in the state agricultural department.

The national green tribunal (NGT) has also asked the state government to appear on October 15, with their plan of stopping the stubble burning.

 GOVT EMPLOYEES TOLD NOT LET STUBBLE BURN 

The state government has issued instructions to officials and staff in all government departments, boards, corporations and subsidiaries that stubble should not be burnt on any agricultural land they own. “Even if they are not themselves tilling land, and have given it on lease, they must keep check,” said an officer in the department. He added that the next course of action would be to identify land they own and punitive action would be initiated against defaulters. These orders were issued two years ago, and have been re-issued.