Spike in stubble burning incidents in Punjab

May 26, 2020 05:23 am | Updated 05:23 am IST - CHANDIGARH

With wheat harvesting over in Punjab, the State has witnessed a spike in incidents of stubble burning against the last two years as several farmers continue to defy the ban on burning the crop residue.

Government data show that across the State, between April 15 and May 24, 13,026 incidents of stubble burning have surfaced. Last year the number of such incidents during the same period was 10,476. In 2018, Punjab recorded 11,236 fire incidents.

Moga district has seen the highest number of stubble burning incidents at 1,179, while Amritsar with 1,119 such cases is on the second spot. Bathinda district recorded 1,061 cases to be at third place on the list, according to the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

Karunesh Garg, member-secretary of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, told The Hindu that action is being taken against all those defying the ban. “Challans are being issued to offenders, besides police cases are being registered against the farmers burning wheat straw,” he said.

The ban and action against the people burning the crop residue is regulated under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

Mr. Garg said that so far 3,141 incidents of straw burning had been identified in which ‘challans’ amounting to ₹39,27,500 had been issued to erring farmers. “Besides, red pen entry has been made in the revenue record of 510 farmers and FIRs against 322 farmers have been registered for defying the ban,” said Mr. Garg.

According to Sandeep Bahl, senior environmental engineer at PPCB in Ludhiana, burning of wheat straw reduces the soil fertility, besides polluting the environment. “Burning of wheat straw can cause diseases such as problem in breathing, lungs etc, which could affect recovery of patients suffering from COVID-19,” he said.

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