November 22, 2021 6:12:47 am
Punjab has burnt over 43% of the total rice area in the state till November 15 this year, which is 16% less than the area compared to last year in the corresponding period. Even as the state saw a delay in paddy harvest this year, six districts have already burnt between 53% and 60% of the total area under rice cultivation.
Incidents of farm fires have also been constant in the state. While Punjab recorded 71,024 fire incidents till November 21 this year, the data stood at 76,592 fires in 2020. In 2019, 2018 and 2017, the number of farm fires was 55,210, 50,590 and 45,384, respectively. According to data procured from Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), paddy stubble burning area was 12.9 lakh hectares till November 15, 2021, which is around 43% of the total rice area in the state as per Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC). In 2020, 17.96 lakh hectares of paddy crop was burnt. Data also revealed that Punjab burnt 47% area viz 6.04 lakh hectares of the total 12.9 lakh hectares in 10 days from November 6 to November 15 when wheat sowing was at its peak in the state and farmers had to clear the fields to sow wheat on time. From September 16 – when stubble burning began in Punjab – till November 5 (51 days) 6.86 lakh hectares were set on fire.
At 59.65%, Kapurthala district was the highest in paddy crop burning, according to PRSC data. The district, which has recorded 1,794 fires incidents till November 21, burnt over 72,000 hectares, followed by Amritsar and Tarn Taran, where 57% (1.01 lakh hectares) and 55.63% (1.02 lakh hectares) rice area was set on fire, respectively. While Ferozepur burnt 54% of its stubble burning area, Patiala set 53% area under paddy on fire.
According to PRSC, total rice area is 29.68 lakh hectares this year, of which 12.9 lakh hectares have already been set on fire till November 15. Data sourced from PRSC revealed that in 2020, of the total 27.89 lakh hectares under rice cultivation, 17.96 lakh hectares was burnt in the entire season. In 2019, of the total 28.77 lakh hectares under paddy crop, 18.95 lakh hectares was burnt. In 2018, of 29.07 lakh hectares under rice cultivation, 17.81 lakh hectares was burnt in the entire paddy season. Similarly, 2017 saw burning of 19.77 lakh hectares under paddy of the the total 27.64 lakh hectares.
While Barnala burnt 53.8% area by setting 59,660 hectares on fire, Fardikot burnt 51.72% by setting 56,120 hectares on fire. The districts with more than 40% burning area included Jalandhar (48.43%), Gurdaspur (48.05%), Fatehgarh Sahib (44.56%) and Moga (41.68%). While Ludhiana and Bathinda witnessed 36% and 33% stubble burning, respectively, eight districts witnessed 15% to 30% paddy crop burning.
The lowest area has been burnt in Pathankot where 4,500 hectares was set on fire and just five fire incidents were reported from there as per PRSC. It comes to nearly 15% of the total rice area. Fazilka, Mohali, Hoshiarpur, Mansa, Rup Nagar, SBS Nagar and Mukatsar districts recorded 22.28%, 22.78%, 27.54%, 27.55%, 28.59%, 29.76% and 29.88% area under fire, respectively.
Sources in the Punjab Agriculture department said that last year PRSC data showed 27.89 lakh area under rice cultivation against the revenue record of 31.49 lakh hectares. This year PRSC has been showing rice cultivation on 29.68 lakh hectares which is around 1.21 lakh hectares more than the last year’s PRSC record but according to Punjab Agriculture department this year 30.66 lakh hectares is under rice cultivation in the state which is around 83,000 hectares less than the last year. Elaborating on this, an official from the agriculture department said, “When we say ‘rice cultivation’ then it is a combined area under both paddy and Basmati. For the past couple of years, all the three departments — Punjab Agriculture department, Revenue department and PRSC — are showing some differences in the figures of area under rice crops. The revenue department’s data is considered for the actual record of the crop area and it is calculated post paddy harvesting, which will come around a month after harvesting.”
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