Keeping in view the increased instances of stubble burning in Punjab this year, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR and adjoining areas has issued statutory directions for implementation of the state specific action plan.
CAQM said that as per the satellite remote sensing data, up to October 24, only about 39 per cent of sown area in Punjab had been harvested and thus rising number of fire events is a matter of concern.
As per the Standard Protocol developed by ISRO for CAQM, for the period September 15 to October 26, total paddy residue burning events reported in Punjab are 7,036 compared to 6,463 for the same period during the last year.
CAQM further stated that about 70 per cent of farm fires during the current paddy harvesting season were reported only from six districts namely Amritsar, Firozpur, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Patiala and Tarn Taran.
These districts account for 4,899 cases as against a total of 7,036 incidents in Punjab.
These traditional six hotspot districts had also accounted for about 65 per cent of the total burning incidents during the last year for the same period.
Out of a total 7,036 reported cases, 4,315 stubble burning incidences were reported during the last six days alone which is about 61 per cent.
The Commission stated that it has been closely working with the Punjab government, starting in February 2022, well before the paddy sowing season 2022, to sensitize the state administrative machinery towards their preparedness to prevent and control the incidents of stubble burning.
For effective implementation of the plan of action, the Commission also held consultative meetings with major departments concerned of the government of Punjab like Agriculture and Farmer's Welfare, Environment, Power and Punjab Pollution Control Board.
Based on a broad framework developed by the Commission and learnings from the past paddy harvesting seasons, a comprehensive action plan was prepared by the state government of Punjab.
Key points include diversification to other crops, diversification to low straw generating and early maturing paddy varieties, crop residue management including bio-decomposer application, IEC activities and monitoring and effective enforcement.
The commission has held nine meetings with officials of Punjab government from time to time regarding various issues related to stubble burning, including five meetings with the Chief Secretary. (SJ/IANS)