Farm fires: 586 farmers fined, 20 blacklisted, 72 FIRs lodged in Ludhiana district : The Tribune India

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Farm fires: 586 farmers fined, 20 blacklisted, 72 FIRs lodged in Ludhiana district

Rs 23.85 lakh fine slapped, 1,787 farm fires, aqi remains ‘poor’

Farm fires: 586 farmers fined, 20 blacklisted, 72 FIRs lodged in Ludhiana district

Paddy straw put on fire in Ludhiana on Wednesday. Ashwani Dhiman



Tribune News Service

Nitin Jain

Ludhiana, November 22

Cracking the whip against the age-old menace of stubble burning, the district administration has fined 586, blacklisted 20, and booked 72 farmers so far for putting their paddy straw to flames during the current Kharif season in Ludhiana district, the government has confirmed.

The environmental compensation of Rs 23.85 lakh has been slapped on violators for at least 1,787 farm fires spotted across 2,56,900 hectares of area under paddy cultivation, which is the maximum in the state, till Wednesday, the officials have revealed.

The development assumes significance as it was the first time that many peasants have been taken to task for crop residue burning in Ludhiana.

Even as the official figure of stubble burning cases was lowest ever recorded since 2016, the air quality in Ludhiana on Wednesday again remained poor with a thick blanket of smog enveloping the district. The smog blanket reduced the visibility considerably, especially during the morning and evening hours, making it difficult for commuters to drive and residents gasping for fresh air.

At 277, which was considered “poor”, the air quality index (AQI) of Ludhiana on Wednesday was the third poorest in the state after Bathinda recorded the worst AQI of 325 followed by Mandi Gobindgarh remaining the second most polluted city in Punjab with AQI 306. Both Bathinda and Mandi Gobindgarh’s AQI levels were in the “very poor” category.

Deputy Commissioner Surabhi Malik told The Tribune that a two-pronged strategy comprising awareness and enforcement was underway to check the burning of crop residue in the district.

She said the district administration in association with the Agriculture Department and other allied departments had been spearheading a sustained campaign to sensitise the peasants against stubble burning. “The drive has evoked a massive response with a large number of farmers saying no to burning of crop residue but habitual offenders are dealt with sternly to motivate those adopting scientific management of stubble,” Surabhi said.

Divulging the action-taken report, Chief Agricultural Officer (CAO) Dr Narinder Singh Benipal said 578 farmers were caught burning stubble, following which Rs 23.85-lakh environmental compensation was imposed on them. Of them, 20 violators were blacklisted by making red entries in their revenue records. Besides, 72 FIRs have been lodged, 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. However, environmental compensation was yet to be imposed in eight other cases.

Of the total imposed environmental compensation, a sum of Rs 2.68 lakh, which accounted for almost 11 per cent of the total imposition, has been recovered so far.

Most of the FIRs registered so far were against “unidentified persons” as the police were yet to identify and nominate the “persons” responsible for putting crop residue to fire.

The DC said as many as 8,084 crop residue management machines and 214 bailers were made available to the farmers across the district to scientifically manage paddy straw this season.

“We have been felicitating the farmers for saying no to stubble burning while more will be honoured in future as well to motivate more and more peasants for scientific management of paddy straw,” she added.

The Chief Minister’s Field Officer (CMFO), Upinderjeet Kaur Brar, said 25 hotspot villages had been identified across four tehsils in the district, where most of the stubble burning cases had been spotted this season. “Each hotspot village has also witnessed less number of farm fires this year as compared to the previous season,” she said while claiming that nearly 600 of the total 916 villages have recorded no stubble burning case this Kharif season.

Meanwhile, 17 fresh cases of stubble burning were spotted by the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC) here on Wednesday, which took this season’s tally so far to 1,787, which was almost 33 per cent less than 2,682 farm fires reported in the district last year, and some 69 per cent less than 5,817 crop residue burning cases recorded in Ludhiana in 2021.

However, experts have expressed apprehensions over the current season’s farm fire data in view of the fact that almost total paddy crop had already been harvested in the district till date.

“When we look at the previous crop patterns, 2,56,900 hectares of area under paddy is estimated to produce 18.5 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of crop, which will leave behind 1.7 LMT of straw in the fields,” an agriculture expert, Dr Amanjit Singh, who had recently retired as the CAO here, said.

On the air pollution front, Ludhiana, however, remained the state’s third most polluted city on Wednesday with an AQI of 277, which was considered “poor”, with the prominent pollutant PM2.5 concentration 160µg/m³, which was 38 times the World Health Organisation (WHO) annual air quality guideline value, causing breathing discomfort and respiratory problems to the people with lungs, asthma and heart diseases.

While Bathinda remained the most polluted city in Punjab with AQI of 325, Amritsar turned out to be the safest with AQI 232. Among other four cities monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Jalandhar recorded an AQI of 234, Patiala 244, Khanna 260, and Mandi Gobindgarh reported an AQI of 306 at 7:30 pm on Wednesday.

“While the poor air quality causes breathing discomfort to most people on prolonged exposure, the very poor AQI leads to respiratory illness and allied complications,” opined an expert, Dr Ranjana Agrawal, adding that the influx of such patients had been on the rise for the past several days.

Sustained campaign worked: DC

“The sustained drive has evoked a massive response with a large number of farmers saying no to burning crop residue but habitual offenders are dealt with sternly to motivate those adopting scientific management of stubble,” said Surabhi Malik, Deputy Commissioner.

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#Agriculture #Environment #Farm Fires #Pollution #Stubble Burning


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