Punjab has recorded an all-time high in stubble burning. In 15 days of November about 50,000 farm fires were captured by a remote sensing centre based at Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana.
It indicates that the law enforcement agencies of the state have failed to control stubble burning. Environmental activists say that the congress government led by Chief Minister Charanjit Channi is reluctant to register FIRs and impose penalty on farmers indulging in stubble burning because of the upcoming assembly elections and ongoing farmers protests.
Unlike Punjab, Haryana law enforcement agencies are lodging FIRs against farmers involved in stubble burning.
Haryana recorded only one fourth cases in comparison to Punjab farm fires.
A senior police officer of Haryana claimed that the state-wise data for such cases is yet to be compiled but 85 FIRs have been registered over farm fire cases in Karnal district, where Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s constituency is situated.
In Punjab, the number of FIRs registered in 2019 were 1820. It fell to 65 in 2020. This year the number is zero. An official of Punjab Pollution control board claimed that farmers are being issued a number of challans of Rs 1500 per acre but that too remains on paper as they cannot force the farmers for recoveries.
Farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal says, “Stubble burning is not the major root cause of Delhi NCR pollution problem. The Supreme Court also observed that it has become a fashion to bash the farmers.”
Agri-expert and Vice Chairman of Punjab Planning Board, A.S Mittal says, “Stubble burning hardly contributes 10 percent to the air pollution, rest are caused by other factors including Diwali crackers, diesel-driven SUV’s and commercial vehicles, industries and construction work etc.
“Filing FIRs against erring farmers in today’s time is not a wise solution. The solutions mooted so far do not seem to be working at all. The subsidy scheme for employing a stubble residual machine has had limited success,” Says Mittal.