Covid-19 lockdown: Stubble burning returns to haunt Punjab region

For official agencies, it is difficult to move as well as get assistance from the police force which is largely engaged in maintaining the lockdown orders pan Haryana
As per the information from the Haryana pollution control board, 228 active fire locations have been detected in the state so far since the monitoring began on April 15.(ANI file photo)
As per the information from the Haryana pollution control board, 228 active fire locations have been detected in the state so far since the monitoring began on April 15.(ANI file photo)
Updated on Apr 30, 2020 11:38 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh/Karnal | ByRajesh Moudgil & Neeraj Mohan

Stubble burning has once again returned to haunt the region and authorities are finding it tough to put a check on farm fires amid the lockdown.

For official agencies, it is difficult to move as well as get assistance from the police force which is largely engaged in maintaining the lockdown orders pan Haryana.

As per the information from the Haryana pollution control board, 228 active fire locations have been detected in the state so far since the monitoring began on April 15. The figure during the corresponding period in 2019 was 713, top officials say.

Since April 15, maximum cases of stubble burning, 63, have been reported in Sirsa district, followed by 32 in Jhajjar, 24 in Palwal, 20 in Hisar, 17 in Fatehabad, 14 in Sonepat, nine each in Bhiwani and Gurugram, seven each in Karnal and Rohtak, six each in Jind and Charkhi Dadri, four in Panipat, three in Nuh, two each in Rewari and Yamunanagar and one each in Ambala, Faridabad and Kaithal.

With the wheat harvesting on its peak in the state, the number of cases was also been increasing with each passing day as 85 such fires were reported on April 29 as compared to 35 the previous day.

SPECIAL AWARENESS DRIVE

Officials in the Haryana state pollution control board claimed that a special campaign has been launched in the state to make the farmers aware of the bad impacts of stubble burning on human health and soil and this helped in reducing the number of stubble burning cases to 203 from 582 witnessed in the corresponding period last year.

Member secretary of Haryana pollution control body S Narayanan said, “The actual wheat stubble burnings are yet to be confirmed by field verification staff, who have been advised to do the same regularly. A special awareness drive through advertisements and hoardings has also been launched and we are hopeful of much reduced stubble burning this season.”

On being asked whether the farmers were taking advantage of the lockdown, he said, “It is not just punishments that will put a check on stubble burning. Most of the farmers are now aware of the issues and we have been educating them vigorously for the last couple of years.”

“Of course, officers of district committees are engaged in duties related to Covid-19 and might not be able to spare more time for field inspections, but still, we are hopeful of the cooperation from farmers and that is why the cases are far less this year,” he added.

However, ground-level functionaries of the state agriculture department said they have deputed officials for regular monitoring of stubble burning and a fine of Rs 2,500 per acre is being imposed on the violators. “Out of the six sites in Karnal, two have been confirmed as of stubble burning while the remaining ones were accidental fires,” said Karnal deputy director agriculture Aditya Dabas.

On the maximum cases being reported in Sirsa, deputy commissioner Ramesh Chander Bidhan said, “No one is allowed to burn wheat stubble. We have urged farmers not to get involved in stubble burning. The local administration will deal strictly with those who are burning stubble after reaping the crop.”

He said the subdivisional magistrates were keeping strict vigil in their areas and if they were found not doing their duty properly, the higher authorities will take departmental action against them too.

(With inputs from Bhaskar Mukherjee)

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