Punjab government faces heat over stubble burning

October 09, 2017 12:00 am | Updated 04:40 am IST - CHANDIGARH

Farmers have threatened to continue burning crop residue unless the govt suitably compensates them

BKU (Lakhowal) has decided to defy the ban and will not allow officials to enter villages.

BKU (Lakhowal) has decided to defy the ban and will not allow officials to enter villages.

Several farmers’ unions in Punjab are up in arms against the State government over the issue of stringent action against farmers who burn crop residue.

The main Opposition party in the State, the Aam Aadmi Party, has also come out in support of the farmers, blaming the ruling Congress government for failing to secure the farmers’ interest.

With harvesting of paddy in full swing, farmers have already started burning crop residue as they prepare their farms for the upcoming rabi crop.

Farmers have warned that they will continue to burn paddy stubble unless the government suitably compensates them for the expenses incurred on alternative methods of disposing of crop residue.

“The government should first come out with an alternative and then ask us [farmers] to refrain from burning crop residue. We should be given a bonus of Rs. 200 per quintal on paddy or paid Rs. 5,000 per acre in connection with ban on stubble burning,” Harinder Singh, general secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal), told The Hindu .

Mr. Singh said the BKU (Lakhowal) has decided to defy the ban on stubble burning and will not allow officials to enter villages while farmers burn crop residue.

Govt cautioned

Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Sukhpal Khaira on Sunday cautioned the State government against registering cases against farmers for burning paddy stubble.

“The State government has failed to arrange for equipment and machinery required for ploughing the paddy straw back into the fields. Until the government makes alternative arrangements, it should refrain from taking action against farmers,” he said.

Mr. Khaira claimed that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) while issuing directions to stop stubble burning for a cleaner environment had ordered the State government to provide equipment to farmers. “Instead of providing equipment and machinery to the farmers on rental basis, the Punjab government is penalising the farmers by registering cases against them,” he alleged.

Punjab Pollution Control Board chairman K.S. Pannu had expressed hope that the problem of stubble burning in the State would be contained to a considerable extent this season.

Penalty imposed

“Farmers are more aware now and we have been taking steps against those who violate the ban. Till now out of the 300 cases of stubble burning reported in the State, penalty has been imposed in 100 cases,” he said.

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