Patiala, November 19
Farm fires continue to pollute the state’s air with 740 incidents reported on Sunday, though the numbers have come down from the over 1,000 mark being witnessed in the past days. Barring Chief Minister’s home district of Sangrur, all other districts with over 2,000 farm fires registered this season have registered a decline in farm fire cases as compared to last year.
Data reveals that Sangrur has registered 5,529 farm fire cases as compared to 5,239 cases last year in the same period. The rise in farm fires came after Sangrur district recorded an average of 81 quintals per hectare yield in this district. Last year, the paddy yield was 76 quintals per hectare.
Experts suggest that as farmers are now sowing wheat, the numbers will not spike much. In all, 49,900 farm fires were recorded in 2022, 71,304 in 2021, 76,590 in 2020 and 52,991 in 2019.
The state’s total farm fire figures crossed 34,459 cases today. This is the second day on the trot that the state has witnessed less than 1,000 fire incidents in a day since Diwali, with 637 cases reported on Saturday. On Sunday, Fazilka reported 151 cases, followed by Moga and Ferozepur with 127 and 100 cases, respectively, in a single day.
Farmer unions claim that due to a short window between paddy harvesting and sowing of wheat, they are left with no option but to resort to farm fires. “If we sow wheat without removing straw, the rabi crop gets infested with pests and weeds,” they said. However, the Agriculture Department emphasises that ‘low yield cannot be linked to in-situ management of crop residue’.
Meanwhile, Punjab cities continue to breathe poor quality air with only Khanna being an exception. The air quality index recorded on Sunday showed Bathinda as the most polluted with an AQI of 297 followed by Ludhiana at 234. Other cities were Patiala 219, Jalandhar 205, Amritsar 228 and Khanna 168.
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