16% paddy area put on fire, straw from 84% managed scientifically : The Tribune India

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16% paddy area put on fire, straw from 84% managed scientifically

Farm fires, burning spots reduced 33%, lowest ever, no straw burnt in 449 villages

16% paddy area put on fire, straw from 84% managed scientifically

Officials visit a field where paddy straw was managed in Ludhiana on Saturday. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service

Nitin Jain

Ludhiana, December 2

It’s official! Only 16 per cent of the total area under paddy cultivation was put on fire while the straw generated from the rest of almost 84 per cent area was managed scientifically in the district during this Kharif (paddy harvesting) season, which ended on November 30.

In what appears to be the effect of the sustained campaign against the age-old practice of stubble burning, incidents of farm fires and burning spots had come down by 33 per cent in 2023 as compared to 2022, which were the lowest recorded in the state’s largest and biggest district, in terms of area and population, since 2016.

Showing the way towards environment protection, farmers in as many as 449 villages, which constitute 46 per cent of the total 969 villages in Ludhiana, had completely shunned stubble burning with no crop residue burning case spotted in any of these villages.

However, acting tough against those indulging in farm fires, the district administration and the Agriculture Department had jointly imposed environmental compensation of Rs 16.73 lakh in 589 cases of stubble burning and had blacklisted 20 farmers, who were found habitual offenders. Besides, 72 FIRs had also been lodged for indulging in farm fires this season.

Deputy Commissioner Surabhi Malik told The Tribune here on Saturday that the sustained campaign against stubble burning had showed considerable results with Ludhiana setting a record of lowest farm fires and maximum management of stubble through scientific methods.

Surabhi, who spearheaded the drive and monitored it on a daily basis, complemented field officials of the Agriculture, Revenue, and Police departments for working tirelessly throughout the past three months of the Kharif season to spread awareness, education, and motivation among the peasants through the IEC (information, education and communication) campaign, which made the difference.

She said the main thrust was to check the stubble burning through IEC methods but stern penal action was also initiated against those, who failed to fall in line.

Divulging the action-taken report, the Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO), Dr Narinder Singh Benipal, said as much as 16,70,560 tonnes of straw was generated from 2,56,900 hectares of area under paddy cultivation, which included 2,46,600 hectares under parmal (non-basmati) and 10,300 hectares under basmati rice in the district this season.

He said paddy straw generated from 1,66,200 hectares, which accounted for 65 per cent of the total paddy area, was managed through in-situ methods while farmers of 48,200 hectares, constituting 19 per cent, opted for ex-situ straw management. However, the remaining 42,500 hectares, which was almost 16 per cent of the total area, was put on fire.

Besides, the burning spots this season came down to 1,787, which were 895, accounting for 33 per cent, less than 2,682 locations, spotted with farm fires in 2022.

Similarly, the crop residue burning cases in 2023 also dipped to 1,801, which were again almost 33 per cent less than 2,682 farm fires recorded here last season. This was the lowest-ever number of stubble burning incidents reported in the district so far.

The CAO further said 1,208 of the total 1,801 farm fire spots recorded by the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC) had been detected during field visits till the end of this season on November 30.

Of the environmental compensation amounting to Rs 16,72,500 imposed in 589 cases, Rs 6,17,500 had so far been recovered. Besides making red entries in the revenue records of 20 defaulters, at least 72 FIRs, including 66 under Section 188 of the IPC for violating the stubble burning prohibitory order, and 6 under Section 39 of the Air Act, 1981, for causing air pollution, had been lodged in the district this season.

Campaign to continue: DC

“Our sustained campaign against stubble burning will continue in future as well with an aim to further reduce incidents and make Ludhiana the first no farm fire district in the state,” Surabhi Malik, DC, said.

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#Agriculture #Environment #Farm Fires #Pollution

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