A MAJOR chunk of stubble burning cases in Haryana have been reported from areas which fall on National Highway 1 – connecting New Delhi to Chandigarh – over the past 19 days, according to highly-placed official sources. S Narayanan, member secretary of Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB), told The Indian Express that they had identified 437 cases of stubble burning in the state between September 22 and October 12 this year. Karnal and Kurukshetra – both on the highway – have topped the list of challans – with 157 and 140 respectively. Officials said as many as 132 FIRs have been lodged in the state — all of which are from Karnal (118) and Sonipat (14). “In some of these cases, we lodged FIRs against the farmers concerned. In the other cases, they were only challaned,” Narayanan added.
On Friday alone, Haryana authorities identified 94 cases of stubble burning – of which 64 are from Karnal and Kurukshetra. Officials added that 37 challans were also from Sonipat and Panipat, situated on the highway. A penalty amount of Rs 4.09 lakh has been collected from farmers in 148 cases.
Senior officials in the HSPCB told The Indian Express that it would take at least two years to control the problem in the state. “We run a campaign on the basis of reports from ground staff and the Haryana Space Application Centre (HARSAC) via satellite imagery regarding intensity of stubble burning. In Karnal and Kurukshetra, paddy harvesting began early. In other areas such as Sirsa, Kaithal and Jind, paddy harvesting will pick up a little later. We will keep an eye on cases of stubble burning,” Narayanan said.
Haryana Additional Chief Secretary Dheera Khandelwal said, “We will honour 100 village panchayats with a cash award of Rs 50,000 each if they report zero cases of stubble burning this year.” Officials of the Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Department said as many as six paddy straw-based biomass power projects would be set up in the state during the next two years. However, a farmer leader from Fatehabad district, Mandeep Nathwan said, “If the government is really serious about tackling the problem, it should arrange stubble processing machines for farmers so that they can easily adopt such methods.”