EC imposed on Punjab farmers for burning paddy stubble: Authorities clueless on how to collect amount

Raakhi Jagga
Biochar, Biochar news, Biochar Stubble burning, Stubble burning Punjab, Delhi pollution, Delhi city news, indian express

Out of Rs 6.09 crore imposed on farmers as environmental compensation, only Rs 70,000 have been collected so far.

While over 90 per cent wheat sowing in the state is over, the authorities in Punjab remain clueless on how to collect environmental compensation (EC) imposed on farmers for burning the crop residue after the paddy harvesting.

Meanwhile, the agricultural department says it is now going to focus on wheat crop. The department is busy taking daily reports of wheat sowing and also guiding the farmers with assistance.

“The paddy season is over. Now our focus is on wheat. 90 per cent of wheat sowing has taken place in Punjab,” Agriculture Director Swatanter Kumar said adding that this year, 34.90 lakh hectare area has been targeted under the winter crop against 35 lakh hectares of 2018.

After the paddy harvesting, the entire focus of the agriculture department was to stop paddy stubble burning in the fields. Despite spending Rs 450 crore on giving subsidy on crop residue management machines and Rs 20 crore on awareness campaign, the state recorded over 52,000 cases of stubble burning this year.

Following this, EC has been imposed in 23,277 cases and 1,737 FIRs have been lodged against farmers for disobeying the orders duly promulgated by a government officer. In 266 cases, magisterial complaints have also been lodged under section 39 of Air act, 1981 for causing air pollution.

Out of Rs 6.09 crore imposed on farmers as environmental compensation, only Rs 70,000 have been collected so far.

When asked about the same, an agriculture official, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Now our focus is on wheat sowing season. Moreover, action on FIRs has to be taken by police and EC has to be collected by district administration.”

Karunesh Garg, senior environmental engineer of Punjab Pradesh Pollution Board told The Indian Express said, “The district administration has to collect the EC and deposit it with PPCB. So far, we have got only Rs 70,000. We will be giving some more time to the authorities and later will be writing to them formally. This time, farmers have been rewarded for not burning stubble and hence the ones who burnt, must pay for it.”

Meanwhile, several farmers say that they will not pay the compensation and are seeking cancellation of FIRs.

A state-level protest was organised by the farmers over the issue last month.

Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of BKU(Ugrahan) said,”Our union will fight against FIRs lodged and even the EC imposed. We appeal farmers not to pay compensation and all farmer unions will support them.”