Patiala, November 29
Hit by floods during July, the towns of Sunam (1,157), Lehragaga (923) and rural areas falling around the city of Sangrur (787) witnessed the highest number of farm fires in the state this season.
Sangrur has so far witnessed 5,618 farm fires. As many as 5,239 incidents were reported in 2022.
The field report compiled by the Agriculture Department states that transplantation of paddy was delayed due to floods in these areas.
Most of the crop was ready for harvesting in the first week of November. Left with the limited window for harvesting paddy and sowing the wheat crop within the ideal timeframe of November 1 to 15, the majority of farmers decided to set the paddy residue on fire, said agriculture experts.
Director Extension Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) GS Buttar said that there are various reasons behind the rise in farm fire incidents. Primarily, it was flood which delayed the sowing to second week of August and then harvesting of paddy crop to November. Further, long-duration paddy varieties like PUSA-44 and Peeli PUSA, which covered 50 per cent area in Sangrur, has traditionally been the biggest contributors to farm fires.
On the other hand, state pollution control board is trying to find out the reason as to why ex situ and in situ management could not show impressive results in districts of Bathinda (2,967), Moga (2,794) and Ferozepur (3,398), which reported the maximum paddy residue burning incidents this season, after Sangrur.
Jalalabad town of Fazilka has emerged as the latest hotspot of farm fires in the state during November. The town has witnessed 729 fire incidents in 25 days, followed by 383 cases of farm fires reported in the rural area located close to Fazilka city.
Sources in the Agriculture Department said that the issue of areas hit by rising farm fire incidents needs to be looked into.
It has been observed that in these areas, majority of the crop residue management machines are with big farmers. Even the cooperative societies are dominated by large farmers.
“In the absence of crop management machines, small and marginal farmers are left with no alternative but to set the paddy residue on fire to clear the field. Many farmers set the paddy residue on fire as a symbol of protest against government policies,” said an Agriculture Department official requesting anonymity.
As many as 18 farm fires were reported on November 29 taking the season count to 36,650. Barnala, Bathinda and Ludhiana reported three cases each, two incidents were reported from Tarn Taran. One case each was reported from Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Fazilka, Jalandhar, Moga, Muktsar and SBS Nagar.
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