Paddy stubble burning incidents in Punjab this year have broken a four-year record, with the state recording 57,686 field fires till Saturday, November 7. In 2019, the state had recorded 55,210 stubble fires in the entire paddy harvesting season. In 2018 and 2017, the total number of paddy stubble fires were 50,590 and 45,384, respectively.
While paddy harvest this year is only 90 per cent over so far, the fire incidents have already crossed last year’s figure by 2,476 cases. On Saturday, the state reported 4,716 stubble fires, according data from the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PSRC), Ludhiana.
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This year’s figure is inching closes to 60,000 despite the state providing 74,000 stubble management machines, forming of the various commissions and committees, appointing 8,000 Nodal officers.
On Saturday, Sangrur recorded the highest 752 fire incidents, followed by Bathinda with 612 fires. Moga was at third place with 584 fires. Barnala, Mansa and Mukatsar, recorded 400, 397 and 360 field fires, respectively.
Like the past four years, Sangrur is at the top this year too with more than 7,000 stubble burning cases till now.
In the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 too, Sangrur had recorded the highest number of fires among all the districts, with 6,968 (15 per cent of the total fires), 6,862 (14 per cent) and 7,021 (13 per cent), respectively.
Even in 2016, the district had recorded 9,556 fires in that paddy season.
PRCS records show that in past four years, half a dozen districts — Sangrur, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Patiala, Mukatsar, Mansa and Moga — have remained among the top districts in stubble burning incidents.
This year, Tarn Taran district too has reported a high number of stubble burning incidents.
Going by the records this year, the top six districts of the state have accounted for 60 per cent to 64 per cent of the total fires in the state which has 22 districts.
According to Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), the PRSC started started recording the stubble fires with satellite in 2016 and the state recorded around 81,000 fires. Subsequently, the cases started dropping but this year, it may go close to the 2016 figures if farmers will not stop burning.
“The number of fires now will increase more because wheat sowing has already on in the state and farmers are in a hurry to clear the fields from stubble and burning is the easy and best way for them,” said a PPCB senior officer.
Farmer unions said that there is not much use of the stubble management machinery in the state until the government pays them around Rs 100 per quintal paddy to manage the stubble.
The Punjab government has distributed around 74,000 paddy stubble management machines on subsidised rates since 2018.