Other States

Punjab sees sharp rise in stubble burning

With paddy harvesting gaining pace in Punjab, the key grain producing State is witnessing a sharp rise in stubble burning this kharif (summer) season.

As per the government data based on satellite aggregation, 9,434 cases of stubble fire occurrence were reported between September 21 and October 21 in the State. Last year, there were 3,515 farm fire incidents between October 1 and October 21. The State has so far seen 5,282 more cases of farm fire than the last season.

Tarn Taran on top

Tarn Taran district saw the highest number of farm fire cases at 2,086, while Amritsar with 1,657 cases is at the second spot. Ferozpur district recorded as many as 1,033 cases and is third on the list, according to the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

Paddy has been grown over 27 lakh hectares of land in Punjab this year. This includes cultivation of Basmati on 7 lakh hectares. Cumulatively, this is expected to yield paddy residue of 16.50 million tonnes.

Stubble burning, close to the autumn season every year, has been one of the contributing factors to air pollution across the northern region, including New Delhi, causing respiratory problems.

Early harvesting

Krunesh Garg, member-secretary of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, said the key reason for the higher number of fire cases was the early harvesting. “Owing to COVID-19 situation, paddy planting got advanced this year and hence the harvesting has been early as well,” he said.

Amid concerns of labour shortage during the nationwide lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak, the Punjab government had announced advancement in the paddy nursery sowing and transplantation dates by 10 days. The operations (nursery and transplantation) commenced on May 10 and June 10 respectively, instead of the May 20 fixed earlier by the agriculture department for sowing of paddy and June 20 for transplantation.

“Also, this year the weather conditions have been comparatively dry than last year, which is another factor for early harvesting. I am sure that the final figure of fire cases and burnt area will be lower than previous years at the end of the season,” he said.

As part of the State’s stubble management strategy, over 23,500 more agri-machines are being provided this year to farmers, either individually or in groups or through cooperative societies at a subsidy ranging from 50% to 80% by the agriculture department. This is in addition to 51,000 paddy straw in-situ management machines provided over the past two years.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 11:54:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punjab-sees-sharp-rise-in-stubble-burning/article32933795.ece

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