Despite the distribution of 50,000 stubble management machines this year and a fall in 6 per cent area under rice cultivation, Punjab till November 19 burnt stubble on 17.93 lakh hectares (44.28 lakh acres), which is 61 per cent of the total rice area.
This year area under rice in the state was 29.20 lakh hectares (72.12 lakh acres) – 22.91 lakh hectares under paddy (non-Basmati) and 6.29 lakh hectares under basmati rice. Last year, total 31.03 lakh hectares was under rice including 25.92 lakh hectares under paddy and 5.11 lakh hectares under basmati. Total stubble over 17.81 lakh hectares was burnt last year which comes to the 57 per cent of the total rice area then.
The data sourced from the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC), Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, revealed that till November 25 total 52,942 stubble burning cases were recorded in Punjab while these were 51,751 and 50,841 were recorded, in 2018 and 2017, respectively, till November 25.
The PRSC data revealed that in Amritsar 1.06 lakh hectares (59 per cent) of the total rice area was burnt. In Baranala it was 74,063 hectare (66 per cent), Bathinda 96,039 hectares (77 per cent), in Sangrur district out of 3.27 lakh hectares of 58 per cent stock was burnt. Faridkot recorded farm fires over 73,038 hectares (55 per cent) under rice, Fatehgarh Sahib – 47,063 hectares (50 per cent), Fazilka was at around 25,000 hectares (14 per cent), Firozepur – 1.47 lakh hectares (67 per cent), Gurdaspur 1.13 lakhs hectares (51 per cent),, Hoshiarpur – 23,330 hectares (34 per cent), Jalandhar – 1.08 lakh hectares (57 per cent), Kapurthala – 77,000 hectares (61 per cent), Ludhiana – 1.56 lakh hectares (57 per cent), Mansa – 52,500 hectares (48 per cent), Moga – 1.17 lakh hectares (64 per cent), Mukatsar around 60,000 hectares (28 per cent), Pathankot – 4063 hectares (14 per cent), Patiala – 1.58 lakh hectares (62 per cent), Rupnagar – 12,000 hectares (32 per cent), Mohali – 9,000 hectares (29 per cent), Nawanshahr – 22,000 hectares (35 per cent) and Tarn Taran – 1.25 lakh hectares (44 per cent).
Out of total 22 districts, 12 districts ended up burning more area this year compared to last year. Most of these districts are located in Majha and Doaba regions of the state. The districts which have burnt stubble spread over more area this year as compared to last year are Gurdaspur, where farm fires took place over 32,000 hectares (79,040 acres) more area, Ludhiana – 28,000 hectares more, Kapurthala have stubble buring over 27,000 hectares more, Amritsar (21,000 hectares), Jalandhar (13,000 hectares), Nawanshahr (9,000 hectares), Barnala (4,000 hectare). Hoshiarpur and Sangrur both had stubble fires across 3000 hectares (each district) more compared to last year, while in Rupnagar, Fathegarh Sahib and Tarn Taran it was over 2,000 hectares more in each case.
Fazilka and Mukatsar has shown a big cut in the fire incidents by decreasing 50% and 38% fire incidents, respectively, as compare to last year.
“The acreage shows the exact picture because there were few days during the stubble burning period when due to heavy clouds on several districts, the fire incidents could not be recorded by the satellite but it could record the burnt fields when the clouds got cleared,” said Dr Anil Sood, head of the ACM Division, PRSC, Ludhiana a senior officer in the PRCS centre.
Experts said that even if the weather is clear then also 100 per cent fire incidents cannot recorded, but acreage can be. “The fire incidents are recorded by the satellite, which is moving, while it will pass from the area where the fires incidents are taking place as it is not remained constant at a particular place and may miss some fires but not the area,” said a senior officer at PRSC.
“Going by the number of stubble management machines, the area under fires should have gone down this year, but it has increased,” said a senior officer in the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), adding that government could not act timely to provide the compensation to the small and marginal farmers.
General Secretary of BKU Dakaunda, Jagmohan Singh, said that if the government had paid a compensation Rs 100 per quintal paddy before the beginning of paddy harvesting, the area under farm fires would have gone down to a large extent.
Stubble compensation: 1314 farmers fraudulently claimed `49L
Punjab government has zeroed in on 1314 farmers who fraudulently claimed Rs 49 lakh in compensation for not burning paddy stubble despite having set the crop residue on fire. “We identified 1314 farmers who had claimed the money fraudulently. The amount is Rs 49 lakh. Most of the amount has been recovered. We had asked the banks to freeze the amount when the scam came to light. It had not been transferred to farmers accounts by then. Only a few lakhs are pending. We will recover that in the coming days,” said a government official.
As per the government, 29,343 farmers were paid Rs 19 crore at Rs 2500 per acre for not burning the stubble. The government had stopped doling out the compensation after some village panchayats reported that farmers who had set their fields on fire had claimed the money. It was initially suspected that close to 5,000 farmers had claimed the money fraudulently. — ENS