Chandigarh: With there being no letup in the incidence of stubble burning in the state, the Punjab government has decided to crack down on the offenders of farm-fires.
The decision comes a day after the state witnessed 2,000 farm fires in a single day on Wednesday, the maximum from the Sangrur district where chief minister Bhagwant Mann hails from. Pertinently, Punjab has already logged over 23,000 cases of farm fires this paddy harvest season till November 6.
SC had rapped the state over paddy straw burning
The step also comes days after the Supreme Court rapped Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and other states for failing to check the paddy straw burning – one of the main contributors to severe air pollution in Delhi and the national capital region (NCR), besides several cities in the adjoining states.
According to information, the civil and police administration has now been asked to register police cases under section 188 of IPC (disobedience to order promulgated by a public servant) against farmers indulging in stubble burning, besides intensifying patrolling by concerned departments as well as police.
The district magistrates (DMs) and the police commissioners as well as senior superintendents of police (SSPs) have also been told to jointly hold review meetings daily to take updates on stubble burning incidents in their respective areas. While the DMs and SSPs have been asked to themselves conduct regular visits to the fields, the government has made it clear that action would be taken against station house officers (SHOs) in case of any incident of farm fires in their areas.
Farm leaders say farmers did not have choice
Meanwhile, farm leaders have stated that while the farmers did not want to burn the stubble either, they had no choice but to do it with there being no other option. They say that while about five lakh farmers had applied for the crop residue management machines available for subsidised rates, only about 25,000 could get them.
Pertinently, the farmers opt to burn the paddy straw to clear off their fields as they find a very short period between paddy harvesting and sowing of the next crop - wheat. Another reason for the farmers to opt this practice is that unlike the straw management course, burning paddy straw does not cost them anything, hence the quick and cheapest way to get rid of it.