In Haryana, farmers say burning fields their only option

Several farmers claimed they have no option but to burn the stubble. “The stubble does not decompose on its own. We cannot remove it using tractors, and doing it manually is very expensive,” said a farmer.

By: Express News Service Written by Khushboo Sandhu | Kurukshetra | Published:November 6, 2016 2:12 am
Delhi air pollution, india air pollution, air pollution rise, Delhi smog, India smog, smog rise, Haryana crop burning, haryana stubble burning, haryana stubble burnt, farmers penalised, haryana government, india news, indian express In this Friday, November 4, 2016 photo, Bijender Singh walks through smoke caused by setting his field on fire to prepare it for its next yield at Chandhat, Haryana. (Source: AP)

THE HARYANA government’s claims of having taken measures to check stubble burning are going up in smoke, with the problem continuing unchecked. Since the first week of October, vast tracts of land have been set on fire by farmers in Karnal, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar, Ambala, Kaithal and Panipat who claim they have no option but to burn the stubble to prepare their fields for the next harvest.

While images by NASA suggest that stubble burning is choking the capital, farmers dismissed the suggestion. “Delhi is suffering because of Diwali crackers. Stubble burning does not cause pollution; it takes just a few minutes for it to burn. Government should check the number of vehicles, not bother farmers,” said Ramesh Rattan, a landlord in Haryana.

Several farmers claimed they have no option but to burn the stubble. “The stubble does not decompose on its own. We cannot remove it using tractors, and doing it manually is very expensive,” said a farmer.

Ram Kumar, another farmer, said, “I did not set fire to my fields after harvesting paddy and the stubble is still standing. The government should offer some alternative — either help remove the stubble or compensate us.”
In a nearby village, another farmer said everyone sets their fields on fire despite knowing the ill-effects. “When stubble burning is at its peak, a lot of villagers complain of cough and breathlessness. But people still do it,” he said.

Data for ambient air quality, monitored by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board, showed that in October, the average levels of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 in Faridabad was 155 µg/m3. The permissible level is 100. The maximum level was recorded on October 31 at 303 µg/m3 .

The levels are even worse in Gurgaon, where levels of PM 2.5 were recorded at 270.89 µg/m3. The maximum it rose to was 785.

Secretary, Haryana State Pollution Control Board, S Narayanan said cases of stubble burning have reduced considerably. “Less than 30 cases were identified on November 3. So far, as many as 1,400 cases have been identified and Rs 13 lakh compensation collected from farmers,” he said.

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  1. R
    Raj
    Nov 8, 2016 at 5:52 am
    Flood irrigation for paddy destroys all micro-organisms in the soil. So the soil used for paddy dead and hence the farmers require large doses of fertilizers and pesticides to grow anything. Therefore the stubble also cannot be decomposed as there are no organisms to do so. The farmers in Punjab and Haryana can afford to kill their soil and still get away with it because they have abundant supply of cheap water through a network of canals. Without chemical fertilizers these farmers will not be able to grow even a stub of gr on their dead soil. This is not sustainable. Where water conservation is practiced the soil biodiversity is required and hence the stubble is used as food for soil micro-organisms. In this kind of farming excess water cannot be used as it would drown and kill all the micro-organisms. So the story is not just of stubble burning but it goes deeper into the soil profile itself which has been destro for ever.
    Reply