Satellite images of fire incidents is helping authorities in Punjab to tackle stubble burning in the state, putting a check on the banned practice that causes air pollution and adversely affects human health.
Out of the 82 fire incidents this year in Punjab, 23 have been identified as stubble burning through satellite images by state authorities, a Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) official said.
"The satellite images of fire incidents are provided by the Ludhiana-based Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC). Based on the images, district authorities concerned are then alerted through the SMS system," a senior PPCB official said.
PRSC is using Remote Sensing, Geographic Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) to collect geospatial data, he said.
"A SMS alert system has been started in Punjab for the first time," the senior official said.
SMS pertaining to fire incidents of stubble burning goes to several officers, including police and administration, for action against farmers, he said.
The senior official said based on this information, a total fine of Rs 77,500 has been imposed on farmers found involved in stubble burning incidents.
Of the 23 incidents, stubble burning cases were detected in Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana and Jalandhar, he said.
"There has been a decline in incidents of stubble burning in the state after the SMS alert system was put into place. People are now scared. They know if they burn crop residue, they can be caught," PPCB Member Secretary Babu Ram said.
The fine for stubble burning in an area up to 2 acres is Rs 2,500 in the state, Rs 5,000 in up to 5 acres and Rs 15,000 in more than 5 acres of land.
Notably, farmers find stubble or straw burning the easiest method to get rid of the residue in order to sow the next crop.