Bhatinda (Punjab): Local farmers in Punjab’s Bathinda district expressed their dissatisfaction over Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann-led state government’s failure to find an alternative to the stubble burning problem.
Local Villagers of Punjab’s Bhatinda district said, “If any officials come to stop us from burning the residue on the farm, they will be held hostage, the government can impose as many fines on them but we will not pay the fine.” Lashing out at the government’s poor uptake to obviate the problem of stubble burning, the local farmers said, “They are compelled to set the stubble on fire every year. It is not their hobby to do all this. Farmers and their families get affected due to the stubble smoke first of all.”
They further said that the government sees only the smoke of stubble.
They also said that the government has not provided machines to farmers yet for which they had deposited money.
“Lakhs of rupees have been deposited for the machines for the last 1 year but the government is not giving the machines. Then, where should the farmer go and if the farmers do not set the stubble on fire, what will they do, how will the next crop be sown,” farmers said.
Earlier, Gaurav Bhatia also attacked AAP over 30 per cent increase in the cases of stubble burning in Punjab. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is providing funds to the states without any discrimination and rising above party politics. The reports also prove that Punjab was given the maximum amount of Rs 1,300 crore and Haryana Rs 693 crore for stubble disposal,” Bhatia said.
“Still, on the other hand, 7,648 cases of stubble burning were reported in Punjab during the year 2021-22, which increased to 10,214 in the year 2022-23. Thus, there was an increase of 33 per cent in the incidence of stubble burning in Punjab,” Gaurav Bhatia said further.
Earlier, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar claimed that the cases of stubble burning in Haryana are not even 10 per cent of that in Punjab.
Notably, stubble burning had turned worse across Punjab, giving no hope of improvement in Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) as the capital gasps for clean air.
Increasing incidents of stubble burning in Punjab this year have become a matter of concern with the Union Environment Ministry pointing out that the AQI is likely to deteriorate sharply as only about 45-50 per cent of sown area in the state had been harvested till October 24.
Sources in the Environment Ministry had told ANI that the contribution of stubble burning to the adverse air quality in Delhi and the National Capital Region has been increasing sharply and is about 18-20 per cent currently with the trend only likely to increase further.
As per the Standard Protocol developed by ISRO for Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), for the period September 15, 2022, to October 26, 2022, total paddy residue burning events reported in Punjab were 7,036 compared to 6,463 for the same period during the last year.
CAQM further stated that about 70 per cent of farm fires during the current paddy harvesting season were reported only from six districts namely Amritsar, Firozpur, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Patiala, and Tarn Taran.
These districts account for 4,899 cases against a total of 7,036 incidents in Punjab. These traditional six hotspot districts also accounted for about 65 per cent of the total burning incidents during the last year for the same period. Out of a total of 7,036 reported cases, 4,315 stubble-burning incidences were reported during the last six days alone i.e., about 61 per cent.
As per the Standard ISRO Protocol, for the period of September 15 – October 28 this year, a total of 10,214 paddy residue burning events have been reported in Punjab compared to 7,648 for the same period during the last year, which is a significant increase of about 33.5 per cent.
Out of the total 10,214 reported cases, 7,100 stubble-burning incidents were reported in the last 7 days alone which is about 69 per cent, added the official.