With the number of cases of stubble burning in the state seeing a 33% rise this year, one of the reasons could be the poor enforcement of punitive measures. Of the fine of Rs 6 crore imposed on farmers for stubble burning in 2019, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has collected only Rs 15 lakh (2.5%) to date.
In 2019, 450 First-Information Reports (FIRs) had been lodged, even as the number of cases of stubble burning touched 52,000. This season, only 20 FIRs have been registered, even as the number of cases is over 33,000.
Board member secretary Krunesh Garg said, “Only 15 lakh of the Rs 6 crore fine imposed last year has been recovered. An application has been filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to find ways to collect the pending penalty. This year, we have imposed a fine of about Rs 1.25 crore in 4,672 incidents of stubble burning. In another, 3,269 spots, we are yet to find ownership details. Once owners are identified, fine will be imposed here as well.”
The board claims that early harvesting of paddy has led to the increase in number of stubble burning incidents. Krunesh added, “Last year, 22,503 incidents of stubble burning were witnessed till October 31; the number this year in the corresponding time period is 33,165. Early harvesting of paddy is the main reason. The state had procured 114 lakh tonne paddy till October 31 in 2019, against 148 lakh tonne this year. It suggests 30% increase in early harvesting. We hope that by the end of the procurement, we will have some improvement in cases of stubble burning.”
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