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Posted at: May 16, 2019, 6:54 AM; last updated: May 16, 2019, 8:57 AM (IST)

Polling nears, parties cold to stubble-burning issue

Farm fires on rise; air quality worsens as officials busy in election duty
Polling nears, parties cold to stubble-burning issue
Not a single politician or party has assured people of a solution to the stubble-burning issue. Breathing problems are on the rise. However, no one is bothered. — Agriculture officer

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15

After wheat harvesting, farmers are now readying their fields for paddy sowing by carrying out stubble-burning. However, with the Lok Sabha election round the corner, officials are busy in poll duties and there is no check on fire incidents.

Moreover, fearing backlash from the farming community, no political outfit or leader is willing to speak on the stubble-burning issue.

“Neither courts nor the successive governments have acted strictly on this issue. With political will missing, hapless officers have limited ways to deal with it,” said an agriculture officer.

This year, wheat harvesting has already been delayed by over a fortnight and farm fires are at its peak, resulting in worsening air quality. In the past four days, fields in almost all parts of Punjab were set on fire. The state has already recorded over 5,021 fire incidents since May 2 and maximum of 1,291 recorded on May 12 alone by the Punjab Remote Sensing Authority. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) fire mapper have shown a sharp rise in fire incidents in Punjab and Haryana in the last week.

“We can create awareness and issue fines. Every year, we distribute subsidised machines to farmers, but they continue to burn their fields and create environment pollution,” said Kahan Singh Pannu, Director, Mission Tandarust. “Farmers themselves need to stop burning crops or we will end up turning the state into a desert, sooner than later,” he added.

As per the information collected by The Tribune, over 1.60 lakh farm fire incidents have reported in the past two seasons of 2017 and 2018, with only a few farmers being fined.

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