Punjab Congress today accused Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of "siphoning off" funds sanctioned to purchase stubble burning equipment and machines for the state's farmers.
Farmers are resorting to stubble burning because they do not have the necessary equipment to get rid of paddy residues, state Congress leaders Rana Gurjit Singh, Ajaib S Bhatti and Ajit Inder Singh Mofar said in a joint statement.
They demanded an explanation from the Badal government on where the Rs 10 crore of funds to purchase the machines has gone.
Accusing the Badal government of "siphoning off" the funds, the leaders, citing media reports, said, "The funds have reportedly not even reached the state government or if they have reached the government, then the question arises where the money has disappeared."
According to reports, the state government had sanctioned Rs 10 crore for procurement of 300 happy seeders, 445 choppers and shredders, 125 balers and 125 mould board blows and gyro rakes.
These machines are essential to manage stubble and prevent farmers from burning it, they said.
The Badal government after "vitiating the political atmosphere" is now spoiling the environment by not purchasing these machines, they said, terming Rs 10 crore "quite insufficient" considering the huge requirement of stubble burning machines.
Nearly 30 lakh hectares of land is under paddy production in Punjab and the state needs a large number of these equipment and machines to curb burning of stubble, the leaders said.
Stubble burning-- a deliberate setting stubble residues on fire by farmers to prepare ground for the next crop-- spurts air pollution and state authorities, including the Punjab Pollution Control Board, initiate public awareness drives every year to check it.
The practice carries a penalty under Section 188 of the IPC and every year during the harvesting season district magistrates impose a ban on it.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)