Even as Delhi Chief Minister and National Convener of AAP Arvind Kejriwal blamed the burning of paddy stubble by Punjab and Haryana for the thick blanket of smog enveloping Delhi, his party, however did not consider the issue in its 31-point farmers manifesto which was released in Moga on September 11. Stubble burning detoriates the environment of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi on the whole. Several people even rush to hospitals complaining respiratory problems every year.
“In Punjab, putting a check on stubble burning and taking action against farmers is a political issue. The government does not want to offend the farmers, who comprise a major vote bank. AAP remaining quiet on the issue does not surprise anyone as the party too would not like to upset them,” said an agriculture expert on anonymity.
AAP’s Punjab dialogue head Kanwar Sandhu said they acknowledge that stubble burning is a pressing issue and even if it is not a part of the manifesto it does not mean they did not discuss it and they do not intend to address it. “In fact, when I was holding Punjab dialogue with farmers, I appealed to them personally not to resort to stubble burning. Later, I took opinion from certain agricultural experts including a former Vice Chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University. We reached a conclusion that farmers are not much to be blamed. The bailer, a machine used to incorporate the stubble in the fields is very expensive. Also, it needs a heavy duty tractor to be operated. Otherwise, farmers know that the practice is wrong. Farmers who have enough land are not setting the stubble on fire. They are storing it in a certain portion of the field,” said Sandhu.
Jarnail Singh, co-incharge, Punjab affairs said may be they would look at the issue in the environment manifesto, “We will discuss and let you know. Even if it is not a part of the manifesto we will address it as per the directions of National Green Tribunal (NGT),” he said.