Stubble burning a new worry in Punjab, 28 cases reported in two days

State agriculture dept warns farmers of strict action; as harvesting has been delayed, stubble burning cases could spike in May, with the resultant smoke impacting lungs, say experts
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Updated on Apr 30, 2020 11:08 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | ByGurpreet Singh Nibber, Chandigarh

With 28 cases of wheat stubble burning reported over Wednesday and Thursday, a first for this season, the state government has warned farmers of strict action if they continued doing so. The pollution due to stubble burning will impact lungs of residents, already a concern, as covid-19 also attacks the same body organ.

The Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PSRC) that monitors stubble fires said six cases were reported on Thursday, with 22 on Wednesday (April 29). In 2018 and 2019, the number of cases on April 29 was 307 and 58, respectively. According to data that Punjab Pollution Control Board has released, six cases were reported in Bathinda, four in Kapurthala, two each in Mansa and Muktsar, and one each in Barnala, Faridkot, Ferozpur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, and Moga on Wednesday. The location for Thursday’s cases had been released yet.

“As you all know, we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic which attacks our lungs and could even lead to death. Smoke erupting from the farms on burning of stubble negatively impacts lungs, so let us decide to completely refrain from burning stubble this season,” said Punjab agriculture secretary Kahan Singh Pannu, in an appeal to farmers. He added farmers who defied the law would be proceeded against under Section 144 of the CrPC. Officials added cases of stubble burning are likely to increase in May, as procurement has been delayed by 15 days.

“We fear the number of cases will pick up in May,” said Krunesh Garg, member secretary PPCB, adding that despite staff crunch surveillance has been increased. “Rabi season is comparatively cooler than the kharif for stubble burning, however, this time due to late wheat harvest and the shortened window for making nursery for paddy transplantation, there are concerns,” said PRSC director, Brijendra Pateria.

Satnam Singh Pannu, president of a Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) faction said, “The government has to provide us an incentive of Rs 100 per quintal for not burning stubble.”

PROCUREMENT CROSSES HALFWAY MARK

With wheat arrivals touching 75 lakh tonne, almost half of the 135 lakh tonne expected to arrive has reached 4,100 mandis of the state. Of this, 73.1 lakh tonne has been purchased. Last year, the arrivals had crossed 80 lakh tonne on the corresponding day. “We are satisfied. At this rate, we hope to wind up the entire operation within ten days,” said director, food and civil supplies, Punjab, Anindita Mitra.

She added procurement had almost ended in Ferozpur, Patiala, Khanna, Fatehgarh Sahib and Mohali districts. The Centre has relaxed procurement norms for shrivelling and lustre loss, but with value cut. For shrivelling, the norm has been stretched up to 16% from previous 6%, but with a value cut on MSP per quintal of between Rs 4.81 and Rs 24.06, depending on the actual extent of shriveling.

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Thursday, December 02, 2021