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Friday, May 29, 2020

After initial lull, Punjab farmers start setting fields on fire: 77 incidents of wheat stubble burning in Punjab so far

Farmer outfits and Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had appealed to farmers to avoid stubble burning amid COVID-19 crisis this year.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar | Updated: May 3, 2020 12:30:35 pm
Sangrur farmers, Sangrur farm fires, Sangrur stubble burning, stubble burning in Sangrur, farm fires in Sangrur, Delhi pollution, Delhi air quality, Delhi smog, Delhi air pollution, India news, Indian Express And after harvesting now farmers are making fodder from stubble and setting the left over stubble on fire. (File photo)

After a brief lull, wheat stubble burning has started in Punjab during the ongoing wheat harvesting season. Till Saturday, around 77 incidents of stubble burning were recorded by the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC), Ludhiana. Last year till May 2, this number was more than double at 162 incidents.

Farmer outfits and Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had appealed to farmers to avoid stubble burning amid COVID-19 crisis this year.

But data sourced from the PRSC showed that a maximum of 13 cases of stubble burning were recorded in Bathinda district, followed by Sangrur (8) and Mansa (7). Six incidents each were recorded in Barnala, Ferozpur, Kapurthala, and Mukatsar Sahib districts. Four field fires were recorded in Amritsar and three each in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Fazilka, and Fatehgarh Sahib. Patiala reported two incidents, and so did Gurdaspur and Faridkot. Pathankot, Moga, and Hoshiarpur reported one stubble burning incident each.

During this wheat harvesting season, no stubble burning incident has been recorded in Tarn Taran, Mohali, Ropar, and Nawanshahr.

Dr Anil Sood, head of ACM Division, PRCS, said that there were no cases till a few days back and now 77 fires have been recorded by the satellite. He said that as per the record there were 162 and 806 fires in Punjab in 2019 and 2018, respectively, till May 2. He said that the pace this year was slower, and farmers can still be stopped from doing it.

Wheat harvesting in Punjab started on April 15 and nearly 90 per cent of it has already been completed.

And after harvesting now farmers are making fodder from stubble and setting the left over stubble on fire.

Meanwhile, the Air Quality Index (AQI) on Saturday was satisfactory to Moderate in Punjab.

“In Punjab, wheat stubble is used for making dry fodder for cattle, and farmers only burn the leftover roots of wheat stubble. These roots can be mixed in the soil easily but still, farmers find the burning an easy way to clear it,” said a senior officer in the Agriculture department.

Director Punjab Agriculture Dr. Sutantra Kumar Airy said that, “They are educating farmers for not indulging in the field fires and that too when coronavirus cases are increasing day by day. The disease is related to the respiratory system and air pollution is harmful to the patients”.

Punjab Grows wheat on over 35 lakh hectares and last year 50% of the wheat area was set on the fire by the farmers and that was 10% more area against the wheat area set on fire in 2018.

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