To manage stubble, Punjab to rely on 75,000 machines - ECAS Punjab

To manage stubble, Punjab to rely on 75,000 machines

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Aman Sood
Tribune News Service
Patiala, August 25

Despite over 75,000 machines being made operational this post-paddy season to efficiently manage stubble, the state is expected to see starw burning cases as early as mid-September.

The early sown paddy and failure of the government in collecting a majority of environmental penalties imposed on farmers in 2019 has further aggravated matters.

AAP demands aid for farmers

AAP MLAs Prof Baljinder Kaur, Rupinder Kaur Ruby and Master Baldev Singh on Tuesday alleged the state government was not serious about finding a permanent solution to stubble burning. The MLAs said the government had promised farmers compensation if they did not burn stubble, but it had not fulfilled its commitment yet.

Experts suggest that this year, stubble burning can start as early as mid-September, given the early sowing in parts of the state, and these are not good signs amid the Covid pandemic, which affects patients with weak lungs.

The state Agriculture Department is banking on 75,000 machines, which will take care of the 20 lakh hectares of agricultural fields with stubble. "This year, we expect 40 per cent less cases of stubble burning as compared to previous years," said a senior agriculture official.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board, stubble burning contributed significantly to air pollution in Delhi last year with the share of farm fire smoke in particulate matter peaking to 44 per cent in November.

"We have already received 23,500 applications to buy modern farm equipment for in situ management of the paddy straw. The state has 51,000 machines in the field and we are hopeful that fire incidents will see a significant dip. Moreover, the area under paddy has also decreased by 2.5 lakh hectares due to crop diversification," said Kahan Singh Pannu, Secretary, Agriculture.

As per the data of the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC), Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, (provided to the Punjab Pollution Control Board), till November 2019, total 53,000 stubble burning cases were recorded, while these were 51,751 and 50,841 in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

Sources said an environmental penalty of Rs 6 crore imposed on errant farmers was largely pending due to poor implementation of norms. An official said erring farmers, backed by politically inclined unions, refused to deposit fine and even took officials hostage when they were approached. As many as 1,700 FIRs were also filed against erring farmers for burning stubble.

Last year, the government announced paying Rs 2,500 per acre for not burning stubble, but later stopped doling out the compensation after some village panchayats reported that farmers who had set their fields on fire had claimed the money.

Karunesh Garg, member secretary, PPCB, said they were working on an action plan to ensure strict imposition of the Supreme Court guidelines against stubble burning. "We

have been told to revise them. We are already working on it," he said.

from The Tribune

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