WITH JUST one-fourth of the total estimated paddy arrival in mandis till now, a total of 2589 fire incidents have been reported as per remote sensing data of the PPCB. Punjab’s air quality index has been rated as ‘moderate’ by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and also by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) as of now.
With farmers repeatedly announcing their intention to defy orders, the cases are likely to rise as more paddy makes it to the mandis. As per the data available with nodal officer Dinesh Singla, who is Executive Engineer, PPCB, a total of 2589 fire incidents have been reported in Punjab this paddy season till October 21 in which Amritsar tops with 535 cases, followed by Tarn Taran with 494 cases.
Patiala has seen 360 such incidents till October 21, while Ferozepur reported 180 fire incidents in the fields followed by Faridkot and Sangrur with 155 and 115 field fires, respectively. Farmers in Sangrur even posted live videos while burning paddy stubble.
Meanwhile, environmental compensation worth Rs 15.13 lakh has been imposed on farmers in total 518 cases, but recovery made so far is of Rs 4.83 lakh. Even in 2016 as well as 2017, farmers did not pay compensation.
Rs 73.22 lakh environmental compensation was imposed in 2016 paddy season, while Rs 61.32 lakhs had been imposed in 2017 wheat season, but only Rs 14.05 lakh and Rs 18 lakh, respectively, had been recovered.
According to Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Aashu, “So far till October 22, a total of 47.71 lakh metric tonnes paddy has arrived in mandis and we are expecting around 200 lakh metric tonnes this season. Because of rainfall, harvesting has been delayed, but now arrival has picked up all of a sudden. Against 2.12 lakh metric tonnes paddy arrival on October 17, on October 22, day’s arrival increased to 6 lakh metric tonnes. It is likely to increase more in the coming days and we are ready to deal with glut.”
Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of Bharti Kisan Union (BKU)-Ugrahan said, “As of now harvesting has not picked up. Fields are being set on fire post harvest and it is likely that in the coming week, majority of harvesting will be complete.” Stubble burning cases are likely to shoot up in the last week of October once harvesting is almost over.
Meanwhile compared to October 20 last year, this year was much cleaner in Punjab as per PPCB records. Air quality index (AQI) was mentioned as moderate as per CPCB records with index value at 110 of Punjab, while it was 307 last October and was thus rated as ‘very poor’.
AQI of Delhi, however, was 326 on October 20, 2018 and rated as ‘very poor’ compared to 403 on October 20, 2017 when it was rated as ‘severe’.