CHANDIGARH: The Punjab administration is bracing up to prevent large scale stubble burning this harvest season which kicks off on October 1.
Some 29 lakh hectare is under paddy cultivation this year and would produce 22 million tonnes of straw which has to be dispensed, say agricultural scientists.
While a portion of the stubble is buried, the bulk has traditionally been burnt. This is what the administration is trying to prevent so as to curb pollution that affects New Delhi and the national capital region (NCR). A 2018 survey reported 50,479 stubble fires, post-harvest, forcing Punjab government to form 5,250 farmers groups with a minimum of eight members each among whom 50,609 stubble management equipment were distributed.
With each group handling up to 1,000 acre each, it is estimated that stubble over 26 lakh hectare can be tackled this year.
Officials had taken punitive measures after inspecting 20,098 stubble burning sites last year and lodged 4,805 cases against 13,905. Fines amounting to Rs 1.37 crore was slapped on violators of which Rs 19.02 lakh was realised before farmers approached the high court for relief.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday stayed the recovery of fine from stubble ban violators. Justice Rajiv Narain Raina also issued notice to secretaries of both Punjab and Haryana to discuss the issue for a workable solution.
Officials said, the highest of 6,853 cases of stubble burning were reported in Sangrur district, followed by 4,895 in Ferozepur and 4,722 in Muktsar 4,722. The lowest number of cases (9) were in Pathankot.
Secretary Agriculture, Punjab, KS Pannu said nearly 28,000 residue management machines would be provided to farmers involving a subsidy component of Rs 274 crore during the current fiscal. Some 28,000 such machines with a subsidy element of Rs 269 crore were provided last year, he said.
Reminding farmers of Guru Nanak Dev’s emphasis on protecting natural resources and highlighting its ill-effect, Pannu underlined that several useful microbial organisms also perish in the fire, besides polluting environment.