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Stubble burning season starts in Punjab and Haryana

Nasa’s satellite image showed at least 100 such incidents in Punjab in the last 72 hours

 
By Shagun Kapil
Last Updated: Monday 30 September 2019
Nasa's satellite fire map of North India dated September 26, showing fires in Punjab and Haryana. Photo: Nasa

Nasa satellite images recorded scores of farm fires across Punjab and Haryana in the last seven days, indicating that the stubble burning season has started in the two states.

Several red dots, indicating stubble burning activity, were seen in the images, especially over the districts of Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala in Punjab, and Karnal, Kurukshetra and Ambala in Haryana. Some places in neighbouring western Uttar Pradesh also showed the dots.

While the fires intensified till September 25, they seemed to have decreased in the last 48 hours.

In Punjab, the state pollution control department has recorded 100 such incidents in the last two days, mostly from Amritsar and Tarn Taran district.

The crop residue burning incidents are being reported a bit earlier this time as the sowing of the paddy crop was advanced by seven days in June.

“The government had given June 20 as the date but the farmers had said it was too late and the paddy was sown on June 13. Hence, the harvesting might be happening earlier too. But it usually happens around the last week of September,” said Krunesh Garg, member secretary, Punjab Pollution Control Board.

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana usually burn the residue after harvesting paddy in the autumn to clear the fields of the summer harvest and make way for the sowing of wheat, despite there being a ban on burning agricultural residue. Smoke from Punjab and Haryana travels to Delhi every year, leading to a spike in pollution levels.

The Delhi government has already announced the implementation of the odd-even scheme from November 4-15, 2019, saying that smog from the adjoining states due to the burning of stubble is the major cause of pollution in the city.

The Punjab government has distributed 13,000 stubble management machines to individual farmers as well as farmer cooperatives this year to prevent the burning of paddy stubble.

After these were distributed last year, stubble burning decreased by 9.5 per cent, said Garg.

In Haryana, officials said the practice has been conventionally followed as a tradition, sometimes out of force of habit, and the government is running awareness campaigns to dissuade farmers.

“We got a few reports of stubble burning from the map as well as EPCA (Environment Pollution Control Authority) and we have activated our ground level people to monitor such incidents,” S Narayanan, member secretary, Haryana Pollution Control Board, said.

“Some cases have been reported from Karnal. It started raining here on September 27 and there is a forecast of rainfall for the next three days. So those incidents might have stopped for now. I have written to the Agriculture Department to look into the issue in Karnal,” he added.

He further said the department had identified 30 villages last year where the practice was rampant and the information had been shared with district authorities to spread awareness about alternatives in those areas.

On September 27, Nasa’s satellite image showed isolated spots in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, where fires were still burning.

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