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Straw-burning cases see a drop in Punjab

While the PPCB and state government are patting their back for the decline in the figure, the field officials say it’s because of delayed harvesting

punjab Updated: Oct 12, 2018 10:44 IST
Vishal Rambani
Vishal Rambani
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Stubble-burning,punjab,Amritsar
A farmer burns paddy stubble at Fatehpur Bakshiwal village near Patiala on Thursday. (Bharat Bhushan /HT)

In the first 15 days of paddy harvesting, Punjab has witnessed almost a 60% dip in stubble-burning cases as compared to last year.

Against the last year’s 1,021 farm fire cases between September 27 and October 10, the Punjab Pollution Control Board through satellite data has recorded 421 incidents. However, the number of such cases was 477 through physical verification by the field staff.

More than half of the paddy straw-burning cases (294) in the state have been recorded from Amritsar district. The neighbouring Tarn Taran district has reported 61 cases. In Patiala district, 30 cases were identified.

While the PPCB and state government are patting their back for the decline in the figure, the field officials say it’s because of delayed harvesting. “Because of rain, the harvesting season was delayed and it will catch up in the coming days. A farmer sets stubble afire only when paddy from all neigbouring fields has been harvested. This situation will emerge in the next 10 to 15 days,” said a field official of PPCB. He said that the field staff is facing a tough time to convince farmers as farmer unions are opposing government’s drive against stubble burning. “Recently, our officials were held hostage in Fatehpur village of Patiala,” said an official.

Meanwhile, PPCB official spokesman Charanjit Singh said that PPCB in coordination with district administration is working tirelessly to check stubble-burning. He said the results are encouraging and hopefully farmers will cooperate. “So far, 175 farmers have been penalised. A total fine of ₹5 lakh has been imposed, of which nearly ₹2 lakh has been recovered as environmental compensation,” he said.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Punjab in the first fortnight of harvesting season was between 70 and 120, while the figure was above 200 for Delhi and Gurgaon.

First Published: Oct 12, 2018 10:43 IST