More than 700 farm fires have been recorded so far in Punjab despite the state authorities making several efforts to curb the practice of stubble burning.
According to data from the Ludhiana-based Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, the state witnessed four farm fire incidents—two in Amritsar and one each in Ludhiana and Kapurthala on Monday.
From September 15 till October 10, a total of 718 farm fire incidents have been recorded, as per the data. On the same day in 2020 and 2021, the state had witnessed 244 and 150 farm fires, respectively, according to the data. The farm fires continued despite the state government assuring more crop residue management machines and launching massive awareness programmes against stubble burning.
The stubble burning incidents are expected to rise in coming days as paddy harvesting got delayed by at least 10 days because of rains last month. A few days ago, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had even held meetings with various farmer bodies and had told them that his government was making all-out efforts for the management of paddy stubble and had urged the farmers to support it for the same while stressing the need for protecting the environment.
Mann had also said that a total of 1.22 lakh crop residue management machines had been made available for farmers in the current season. A mobile app had also been developed whereby farmers could come to know about the availability of machines for the management of paddy straw within a radius of two-three kilometers. However, farmers have been demanding Rs 6,000 per acre for stubble management. Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana is one of the reasons behind the alarming spike in air pollution levels in the national capital in October and November.
As the window for rabi crop wheat is very short after paddy harvest, farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the crop residue. Punjab generates around 180 lakh tonnes of paddy straw annually. The state recorded 71,304 such fire incidents in 2021, 76,590 in 2020, 55,210 in 2019 and 50,590 in 2018 with many districts including Sangrur, Mansa, Bathinda and Amritsar witnessing large number of stubble-burning incidents.