Patiala, May 7
Punjab has witnessed over 2,600 cases of farm fire in the past three days as compared to 654 recorded last month.
On Sunday, another 502 farm fires took the total to 3,269 cases. With the wheat harvest almost over, the state witnessed 1,221 cases of farm fires on Saturday, while the count was 892 on Friday.
Experts say the number will rise further as the wet spell is over and farm fires will continue to pollute the air for another two weeks. The sudden rise in farm fires is due to the fact that farmers prepare fields for the paddy season, which starts in June.
According to data available on the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) website, the state recorded 13,420 cases in 2020, 10,100 in 2021 and 14,511 in 2022. This season, till date, 3,269 cases have been recorded. On Saturday, Barnala with 200 and Sangrur with 167 cases led the chart, while on Sunday, Sangrur led with 72 cases.
“For almost 10 days, farmers could not set their fields on fire due to rain, which left farms and the harvested wheat crop wet. Now, with the sun out, the farmers are wasting no time to prepare their fields for the upcoming paddy season,” said an official.
Experts say the price of dry fodder, made of wheat straw, is rising every year due to which farmers store it. Agriculture officials said most farmers were making fodder from wheat stubble and were just setting its roots on fire. “However, we are trying to create awareness among the farmers by advising them to avoid it as it leads to pollution,” said Patiala Chief Agriculture Officer Harinder Singh.
Every year, the district administration levies fines worth crores of rupees on erring farmers, but a majority of them are yet to pay it. “The erring farmers, backed by farm unions, refused to deposit the fine and even took officials hostage,” said an official.
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