WHEN almost 85 per cent of paddy in the area has been harvested already, the state Department of Agriculture is hurriedly conducting workshops on straw management across the state. The state’s agriculture department has also sent a request to the Union Ministry of Agriculture to send them an immediate grant of Rs 1602 crore while the whole project is of Rs 11,000 crore —aimed to provide subsidies to farmers.
Director of the state Agriculture Departement Dr Jasbir Singh said, “We have around 30 lakh-hectare area of paddy. Out of that, nearly 85 per cent has already been harvested and a large part has been subjected to stubble burning. But we have sought funds to save the agriculture land for the next wheat harvesting season. We need to prepare for it already. We are conducting workshops in every district so as to spread awareness on the disadvantages of stubble burning.”
One such workshop was organised Wednesday at Sarabha village in Ludhiana. And the department maintained that they were not late in organising such workshops as there aim was to reduce pollution levels.
“Air pollution due to stubble burning is a concern not only in Punjab but in neighbouring states including Delhi and hence we need to provide enough balers, happy seeders, zero tillage machines to farmers at subsidised rates so that they can take measures to control stubble burning,” Singh added. So far, the Punjab Pradesh Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has issued only 500 challans to farmers across the state and has collecetd Rs 5 lakh as fine.
Most of the farmers have not even paid the fine while a few refused to receive a challan. Manpreet Singh Chatwal, Chairman of PPCB said, “We have informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) about the steps taken by PPCB and we have issued over 500 challans. We have installed air monitors at 36 different places to control air pollution. Local committees have been formed at district levels in which PPCB officer is a member.”
Meanwhile in Ludhiana, a total of 2.53 lakh hectare area is under paddy out of which 60,000 hectare has already been harvested. Dr Sukhpal Singh, chief agriculture officer in Ludhiana, who organised one such straw management workshop in Sarabha village said, “We have no biomass plant in Ludhiana or around and farmers aired their concern as where should they sell the straw, if they will not burn the fields. We have educated them to save the environment,” said Singh.