India / Stubble burning in Punjab goes up by 218% in a week: Pollution Control Board

Zoom News : Oct 22, 2021, 07:30 AM
New Delhi: In the last one week, Punjab has witnessed a 218 per cent increase in stubble burning cases. With the progress of paddy harvesting and wheat sowing time approaching, there has been a spike in farm fires.

According to the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), the state has recorded 2,942 stubble burning cases from September 19 to October 20, out of which 2,017 were reported from October 13 to 19 only, as there were only 925 cases in the first 24 days of paddy harvesting, which started between September 10 and 15 as early varieties like Pusa 1509 Basmati are harvested in this month.

Tarn Taran has reported 728 cases followed by Amritsar (665) and Patiala (279). Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur, Kapurthala Fatehgarh Sahib, Faridkot and Jalandhar also recorded 100+ fires at 186, 158, 142, 123, 113, 106 and 102 respectively. No farm fire has been reported so far in Pathankot.

Till October 19, PPCB has imposed Rs 13.46 lakh fine as ‘environmental compensation’ in 443 cases but only Rs 5,000 has been recovered from violators till date. In 174 cases — of which 131 cases were in Patiala district itself — ‘red entries’ have been made in ‘khasra girdawari’ (cultivation register) of the land where stubble fires took place, which means that it will come in permanent revenue record for future reference as well that the farmer was a violator. This year being election year in the state no FIR is being registered so far like previous years when cases used to be registered under various Acts including Air Act, 1981, u/s 188 of CrPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) etc.

Till date, 1,389 sites are yet to be visited after fires were reported from there. Every burning site is visited by teams at district level to verify the nature of the fire. Satellites recorded these fires and send details of the exact location, which is then visited by these teams.

This year, harvesting was delayed by a week to 10 days following rains in the first week of October and around 25 per cent harvesting has taken place in the state till now. Last year, by October 20, 35 per cent harvesting had taken place.

Experts said stubble fires will progress with the progressing of harvesting because then farmers have to clear their fields for next sowing for which they will get very less time and stubble management will not be possible on a large area.

Punjab’s Air Quality Index was ‘satisfactory’ to ‘moderate’ on Wednesday while the national capital recorded poor AQI at 221.