Patiala, September 26
Punjab has witnessed merely eight farm fire cases so far as compared to 140 recorded last year during the same period. But experts believe that these will rise in October as harvesting has been pushed by a fortnight due to the recent rain spell. The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), along with the Agriculture Department, had started monitoring air quality from September 15 and this would continue till November 30, like every year.
This season, paddy was sown on 32 lakh hectares, from which over 22 million tonnes of straw is expected to be generated.
According to the data collected from the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, Punjab witnessed just one case on September 23, while no farm fire was recorded on September 24. As per figures, Punjab witnessed 140 cases till September 24 in 2022, while there were 40 such cases in 2021.
Experts suggest that farm fires this year have been much less as compared to the past two years, the respite is temporary as the harvest has been delayed due to recent rains. “There will be a sudden spike this year and it will take another week when we start witnessing more farm fires,” they maintained. “By October first week, the Majha belt will see a sharp rise in farm fires and by mid-October, the Malwa belt will follow suit, adding to the deteriorating air quality,” they added.
Meanwhile, to ensure compliance of the guidelines pertaining to farm fires, Patiala Deputy Commissioner Sakshi Sahwney today said that weapon licences of those resorting to farm fires will not be renewed or issued. “We will check the entries made in the revenue records of the applicant concerned and the ones who had set their fields on fire and added to air pollution will not get new licences made for any kind of weapon. Even the ones who have one and come for renewal, will not get a sanction, if they burn tubble,” she said.
“Farmer unions backed by politicians across party lines usually do not oppose any move by farmers to set their fields on fire. With the farmers adamant on a compensation of Rs 2,000 to 2,500 per acre to take care of the stubble, the farm fires will continue to pollute Punjab air quality, which worsens around Diwali,” say agriculture department officials.
Officials of the PPCB state that the board was sensitising farmers not to burn stubble. “We are hopeful that the farm fires will come down by half this year, and we are making efforts in this regard”, said an official preferring anonymity.
22 million tonnes of straw expected
- 8 farm fire cases so far as compared to 140 recorded during same period last year
- Paddy sown on 32 lakh hectares, from which over 22 million tonnes of straw is expected
- The harvesting of paddy crop has been delayed due to recent rains
- Farmer unions backed by politicians across party lines usually do not oppose any move by farmers to set their fields on fire
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