As paddy harvesting has begun in Punjab, so too has stubble burning. Till October 12, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has imposed Rs 4.83 lakh environmental compensation at Rs 2,500 per fire incident on farmers after verifying 178 sites. Amritsar tops the list with 355 field fires, followed by Tarn Taran (199) and Patiala (80), till date.
The Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC), Ludhiana, has recorded 925 field fires till October 12 across the state and each field fire is required to be physically verified by a team of officials from various departments, including revenue, agriculture and police.
According to PPCB, of the 925 fires reported by PRSC, 558 sites have been visited so far within 48 hours. Stubble burning was reported only at 199 sites and environment compensation was imposed on 178 sites. The officials found that 361 sites did not engage in stubble burning. The teams are yet to visit 367 sites.
Also, in 23 cases, ‘red entry’ was made in ‘khasra girdawari’ (crop cultivation register), indicating that the cultivators had set the field on fire after harvesting.
The experts said that field fires will increase in the days to come because farmers are busy harvesting and selling their produce after which they will focus on crop residue management or burning to ready the fields for sowing the next crop from November 1.
In Amritsar, farmers go for vegetable sowing after paddy harvesting and to clear the fields for the next crop, they are burning their fields instead of incorporating the stubble on the soil.
The agriculture officials said that it is going to be another challenging year for Punjab on the crop residue management front due to the ongoing protests against the farm laws and the impending elections to the Punjab assembly in 2022. It will be extremely difficult for the Punjab government to balance its act as it would not want itself to be seen as anti-farmer by coming down heavily on those engaging in stubble burning, said the officials.