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Rs 2 crore fine, Rs 4.15 lakh recovered: PPCB data on Punjab farm fires

On Saturday, Central government’s air quality monitoring system SAFAR estimated that around 32% share of PM2.5 pollutant in Delhi’s air — which has been ‘severe’ since three days — was from farm fires in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and other neighbouring areas.

Written by Shivam Patel | New Delhi | November 8, 2020 6:04:17 am
Rs 2 crore fine, Rs 4.15 lakh recovered: PPCB data on Punjab farm fires Officials from the Punjab Agriculture Department claimed stubble burning has been harder to control this year due to ongoing farmers’ agitation over the new agriculture laws. (File)

Fines totalling more than Rs 2.05 crore were imposed on farmers for over 7,700 cases of stubble burning in Punjab this Kharif season until November 6, out of which Rs 4.15 lakh have been recovered so far, as per data from the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB).

Officials from the Punjab Agriculture Department claimed stubble burning has been harder to control this year due to ongoing farmers’ agitation over the new agriculture laws.

A senior official from the department said, “There have been at least 18 cases where farmer groups have crowded around officials who went to inspect fields for stubble burning and did not let them leave for several hours… Plus with movement of goods trains into Punjab affected, we are suffering shortages of coal and fertiliser.

“However, 90 per cent of harvest is done, and we are expecting that in the next two-three days, the remaining will be over too,” the official said.

Last year, the total fine imposed for crop residue burning in Punjab was Rs 6.16 crore in the entire kharif season between October and November, out of which around Rs 14-15 lakh was recovered, PPCB member secretary Karunesh Garg told The Indian Express.

“Farmers have about 15-21 days to pay this fine. If they do not, then the revenue department makes a note of non-payment against the farmers’ land record,” Garg said.

On Saturday, Central government’s air quality monitoring system SAFAR estimated that around 32% share of PM2.5 pollutant in Delhi’s air — which has been ‘severe’ since three days — was from farm fires in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and other neighbouring areas.

Punjab has recorded the highest number of fire counts this year — more than the combined figures of fires in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Between September 21 and November 6, the state recorded a total of 52,970 fire counts, as per satellite data compiled by the PPCB.

Garg, however, said farm fires are only causing a marginal impact to Delhi’s air. “There may be some contribution of farm fires in Punjab to Delhi’s air pollution levels. But Delhi’s population density is very high and the city should first control its local sources of emissions…”

In Haryana, director general of the agriculture department, Vijay Singh Dahiya, citing data from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), said the state has made 25% reduction in stubble burning instances between October 1 and November 4, as compared to the same period last year.

“We have a multi-pronged strategy which has helped us control the problem. We have doubled the number of machines provided to farmers and also ran extensive awareness campaigns,” Dahiya said.

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