The Punjab Pollution Control Board has directed its staff to take action against farmers involved in the illegal practice of paddy stubble burning which, it said, is posing serious threat to the environment and health of people.
The department has also asked Punjab Remote Sensing Centre to conduct a study and find out the percentage reduction in paddy residue burning area in the State. “We have directed our all regional offices to take action if they find farmers burning paddy stubble,” a senior official of the Board said. Help has also been sought from district administration officials to identify erring farmers in order to take suitable action including prosecuting them for violating the rules, he said.
Both the Punjab and the Haryana governments have imposed a ban on paddy residue burning which could lead to prosecution of erring farmers.
Ignoring warnings by State authorities, growers in both the States continue to burn paddy stubble, causing smog which is engulfing the area and posing serious health-related risks like breathing trouble, allergies and asthma attacks.
Punjab authorities have been under fire for not being able to check paddy stubble burning by growers which is adversely affecting the air quality.
Though the Pollution Control Board maintained that there has been a significant reduction in the practice, officials said the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre has been asked to find out the level of decline in paddy stubble burning area through satellite images.
“We are very sure that there is reduction in the practice of paddy stubble burning in the State over the past few years due to efforts put in by the State government. Pollution level in air has also come down,” the official said.
In 2013-14, a total of 53 farmers were booked for paddy straw burning in the State. In 2014-15, the number stands at 16. However this year, no one has been booked so far in this regard.
In the first ever study to monitor residue burning through satellite remote sensing in the State conducted last year by Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, it was discovered that Sangrur district saw maximum 1,413 stubble burning incidents followed by 1,291 in Ludhiana and 1,143 in Ferozepur. - PTI