CHANDIGARH: Even as the paddy harvesting season is far from over, the incidents of stubble burning has crossed the number of farm fires reported during same period in Kharif season last year. Punjab has recorded a rise of about 22%, despite tall claims of the state government to the contrary.
The state government has attributed the spike in incident of stubble burning to advancing of paddy sowing by a week and are confident that the overall number of farm fire will be less than last year which was close to 50,000.
As per the satellite data compiled by the Punjab government, from October 1 to 19, a total of 2,141 cases have been reported, the number of which was 1,758 during the same period last year.
Amritsar tops the list with 514 number of fire events reported in 19 days of the ongoing month. Last year, the number was 455 in Amritsar. Tarn Taran witnessed a jump from 330 cases in 2018 to 481 this year, while the number of farm fires went up from 107 to 148 this year in Firozepur. Gurdaspur , Faridkot, Jalandhar and Kapurthala were among districts where the number went up with figures of 127, 92, 80 and 60, respectively.
Punajb agriculture secretary Kahan Singh Pannu accepted that there has been a rise in number of stubble burning cases this year. He, however, said that increase was largely due to early sowing of paddy and there had also been over 27% more arrival of paddy this year. “Last year, about 50,000 incidents of stubble burning were reported throughout the state. The number will be far less this year,” added Pannu.
In Punjab, about 30 lakh hectares of area is under paddy cultivation and about 200 lakh tonnes of straw is produced of which majority is set on fire every year.
Residue burning has led to fall in air quality in the region. Particulate matter are much higher than the national ambient air quality standards of 100 ug/m3 and 60 ugm−3 for PM10 and PM2.5, across the region.
Haryana no better
During the same period in Haryana, a total of 1,435 cases have been reported this year. The figure for 2018 was 1,346. Highest number of cases were reported in Karnal, Kaithal and Kurukshetra. Karnal recorded 422 cases followed by 346 in Kaithal and 306 in Kurukshetra. In total, 3,576 cases have been reported in Punjab and Haryana.
No fine collection
The Punjab and Haryana high court has stayed the recovery of fine imposed on farmers for setting their fields on fire. The court had directed the state government to take measures by providing affordable solutions to the farmers.