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49% jump in stubble burning cases in Punjab this paddy season

Chandigarh, Nov 2 Punjab has witnessed 49 per cent more stubble burning incidents from September 21 to November 2 as compared to the corresponding period last year, according to official data.

The overall count of incidents of stubble burning in the state during this paddy season so far — from September 21 to November 2 — has reached 36,755 as against 24,726 in 2019, according to the data of the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre.

The state had seen 29,156 and 24,428 incidents of paddy residue in 2017 and 2018 respectively, it said.

Many farmers in the northern state continue to set paddy straw on fire despite a ban on the practice.

Punjab on Monday reported 3,590 incidents of farm fires with the highest number of such incidents recorded in Sangrur district at 696, as per the data.

Sangrur is also the epicentre of the farmers” protest over the central government”s new farm laws.

Bathinda, Ferozepur, Mansa and Patiala districts reported 425, 307, 301 and 287 stubble burning incidents, respectively.

Small farmers have been maintaining that it is economically unviable for them to buy farm machinery like happy seeders, rotavators and super straw management systems on combine harvesters to manage crop residue.

Farmers are demanding Rs 200 per quintal of bonus on paddy and Rs 6,000 per acre for stubble management.

The Punjab government has been seeking from the Centre Rs 100 per quintal as compensation to enable farmers to manage paddy straw without burning it.

Punjab alone generates 20 million tonnes of paddy stubble annually.

Meanwhile, Punjab Pollution Control Board chairman A S Marwaha said rather than pointing at Punjab for pollution in the national capital, the Delhi authorities should check internal sources of pollution.

The chairman, in a statement here, said the air quality index (AQI) is ”satisfactory’ to ‘moderate” in Punjab, while in Delhi it is ”very poor”.

He questioned how a state with better AQI could create pollution in another state.

Marwaha said cities like Panipat, Sonepat, Jind and Karnal in Haryana have ”poor” AQI as compared to Punjab”s Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Khanna, Mandi Gobindgarh and Patiala.

He said the contribution of stubble fire in Punjab could not be the major contributing factor in the deteriorating air quality of NCR, especially Delhi.

Rather, he said, it is due to the internal polluting sources of the national capital region and climatic conditions that develop during the month of October till March every year, which deteriorate the atmosphere in Delhi.

Marwaha added that if stubble burning would have been the major reason for deteriorating air quality, the ambient air quality of Punjab would have also shown similar trends.