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Stubble burning: peak cases in Punjab; anger over farm bills among the main reasons | India News


NEW DELHI: Punjab has recorded around 74,000 stubble burning incidents this season, the highest in four years, and experts say anger over farm bills and the government’s failure to pay the court-ordered financial incentive Supreme to farmers could be among the reasons for the increase. in agricultural fires.
According to data released by the Punjab Remote Sensing Center, the state recorded 73,883 incidents of stubble burning between September 21 and November 14, which is the highest since 2016.
Punjab had reported 51,048 cases of stubble burning in the corresponding period last year and 46,559 incidents of this type in 2018. The number of agricultural fires was 43,149 in the state during the same period in 2017.
An official with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) said incidents of stubble burning peaked between November 4-7.
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences Air Quality Monitor SAFAR, the proportion of stubble burning in Delhi-NCR pollution peaked at 42 percent on November 5, when 4,135 agricultural fires were recorded in the region.
“It was an excellent harvest this year, so the amount of crop residues was also large. Also, it was a cloudless season compared to last year. The biomass was drier and prone to burning.”
“It also appears that farmers are unwilling to cooperate. There could be anger over farm laws,” he said.
According to a Punjab government official, “the farmers are not happy” as the dispensation of the ruling has not given them the financial incentive as ordered by the Supreme Court to avoid burning stubble.
Following high court guidelines to incentivize farmers to stop stubble burning, the Punjab and Haryana governments announced a bonus of Rs 2,500 per acre for small and marginal farmers last year. Farmers say the incentive can help them cover the cost of fuel used to operate machinery for on-site stubble management.
Harinder Singh Lakhowal, secretary general of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Punjab, also said that the number of agricultural fires is “very high this year and anger over agricultural laws is one of the main reasons.”
“The unavailability of workers – many returned to their home states due to the COVID-19 pandemic – is also a reason why farmers are burning stubble to clear fields quickly,” he added.
The IARI official said that the increase in the number of stubble burning incidents does not mean that the policy of providing agricultural equipment for on-site management of crop residues has failed.
“The number of stubble burning incidents in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh tells a completely different story. The numbers have dropped significantly,” he said.
According to IARI data, Haryana recorded 4,699 agricultural fires between October 1 and November 12, while Uttar Pradesh reported 2,288 such incidents during the period, which is the lowest in both states in the past five years. .
Haryana recorded 5,807 incidents of stubble burning and Uttar Pradesh 2,653 cases during the corresponding period last year.
“In Punjab as well, the number of cases dropped every year until 2019. Only 2020 has been the ‘odd’ year,” the IARI official said.
According to a study by IARI scientists in the Punjab districts of Tarn Taran and Amritsar, incidents of stubble burning between October 1 and 10 in Amritsar increased from 180 in 2019 to 515 in 2020, an increase of approximately 2 , 9 times.
In Tarn Taran, the number of stubble burning incidents increased from 92 in 2019 to 341 in 2020, an increase of approximately 3.7 times.
“It is estimated that the harvested area increased by 35,500 hectares in Amritsar and by 39,300 hectares in Tarn Taran on October 10 this year compared to last year.
“It indicates a significant early harvest of rice in these two districts this year, which may be due to early planting of rice in about 7 to 10 days, an increase in the proportion of acreage cultivated with short-lived varieties, and clear weather during 2020 compared to cloudy weather in 2019 during the same period, “the study said.
“By October 10, the ratio of area burned to area harvested in Amritsar increased from 38% in 2019 to 74.6% in 2020. In Tarn Taran, it increased from 30.9% in 2019 to 60.9% in 2020 “, additional.
Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh attract attention during the rice harvesting season between October 15 and November 15.
Farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clean up crop residues left after harvesting rice and before growing wheat and potatoes. It is one of the main reasons for the alarming increase in pollution in Delhi-NCR.
Last year, Punjab produced around two million tonnes of rice residue, of which farmers burned 98 lakh tonnes.
Haryana farmers burned 12.3 thousand tons of the 70 tons of rice residues produced.
Despite the ban on stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, farmers continue to challenge it as there is a short period between harvesting rice and sowing wheat.
The high cost of manual or mechanical handling of straw is one of the main reasons why farmers choose to burn it.
State governments are granting a 50 to 80 percent subsidy to farmers and cooperative societies to purchase modern agricultural equipment for on-site handling of rice straw, installing rice straw-based power plants and running a massive awareness campaign against stubble burning.

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