Punjab reports 3,560 farm fire incidents on Sunday, highest in Sangrur

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Chandigarh, Nov 1 (PTI) Punjab on Sunday reported 3,560 incidents of stubble burning, with the highest number of farm fires recorded in Sangrur district at 593, despite the state government banning the practice to curb air pollution.

The overall count of incidents of stubble burning in the state during this paddy season so far -- from September 21 till November 1 -- has reached 33,165, which is about 34 per cent more than the farm fire incidents witnessed in the corresponding period of last year, according to data of the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre.

The state had recorded 24,722 stubble or crop residue burning incidents in the corresponding period of last year.

Sangrur, Ferozepur and Bathinda districts reported 593, 375 and 373 incidents of farm fire in a single day, the data stated, adding that among other districts, Muktsar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Mansa reported 276, 267, 254 and 247 straw burning incidents respectively.

Small farmers are of the view that it is economically unviable for them to buy farm machinery like happy seeders, rotavators, super straw management systems on combine harvesters to manage crop residue.

Farmers are demanding Rs 200 per quintal of bonus on paddy and Rs 6,000 per acre for stubble management.

The Punjab government has been seeking from the Centre Rs 100 per quintal as compensation to enable farmers to manage paddy straw without burning it.

Every year, Punjab and Haryana are blamed for rising air pollution and smog due to crop residue burning by farmers. Punjab alone generates 20 million tonnes of paddy stubble annually.

The Punjab government on Sunday claimed that the state's air quality index (AQI) fared a lot better than that of neighbouring Haryana and Delhi.

The pollution in Delhi, especially in the months of October till December, has been increasingly blamed on the fires put to the paddy residues in the fields of north Indian states, specifically Punjab, said a government release here.

However, comparison of data collected by the air quality monitoring stations revealed that in months of August and September (2018-2020), the average AQI of Punjab remained within 50 to 87 whereas in Delhi, the average AQI during the same period remained from 63 to 118, the release claimed.

In Haryana, stations near Delhi (2019-2020) and Faridabad for the same period in 2020, the average AQI ranged from 67 to 115, it said.

With the start of harvesting and stubble burning season in the month of October (2018-2020), the AQI in the cities of Punjab ranges from 116 to 153, the release said.

At the same time, locations in Haryana near Delhi (2019-2020) and Faridabad (2020) for the same period, the average AQI ranged from 203 to 245 and the AQI of Delhi during this period ranges from 234 to 269, it said.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered 'good', 51-100 'satisfactory', 101-200 'moderate', 201-300 'poor', 301-400 'very poor', and 401-500 'severe'. Above 500 is 'severe-plus or emergency' category. PTI CHS VSD ANB ANB