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Experts differ on law to save groundwater, some blame it for pollution

Press Trust of India  |  Chandigarh 

AlawmeanttosavegroundwaterinPunjabiscontributingtoaspikeinstubbleburningthatcausesseverepollutioninthenorthernstatesaroundthistimeoftheyear,accordingtosomeexperts.

Others,however,dismissthisreasoning.Thisisjustanexcuse,agriculturaleconomistSardaraSinghJohltoldPTI.

BharatiyaKisanUnion(Ugrahan)generalsecretarySukhdevSinghKokriputtheblameonthechangeinthepaddytransplantationpatternaftertheenactmentofthePunjabPreservationofSubsoilWaterAct,2009.

Thelawwasmeanttochecktherapiddepletionofgroundwaterinthestate.UndertheAct,paddytransplantationwastypicallydelayedfromJune1toJune20andpaddynurserysowingtoMay15.Thisyear,thepaddytransplantationdeadlinewasJune13.

Beforetheenactmentofthislaw,weusedtocompletethesowinginthemonthofMayandthecropwasharvestedbySeptember-endandOctober,givingampletimetofarmerstosowthenextwheatcrop,Kokrisaid.

Hearguedthatthisdelayinpaddytransplantationleadstodelayedharvestingandonlylittletimeisthenleftforfarmerstosowthewheatcrop.

Sotheyburnthecropresiduetoquicklycleartheirfieldsforthesowing,hesaid.

AnilSood,aseniorscientistattheLudhiana-basedPunjabRemoteSensingCentremadethesameargument:thewindowbetweenharvestingandsowingofthenextcrophasshrunkbecauseofauniformsowingperiod.

Earlier,paddywasharvestedinareaslikeTarnTaranandFerozepurbySeptember-end,hetoldPTI.

Dueofthelowwindspeedandthecold,toxicgasesinupperatmospheregettrapped,increasingairpollution,headded.

Moreover,accordingtoBKUleaderKokri,thestubbleinNovemberhasmoremoisturecomparedtothedryresidueofthecropharvestedinSeptemberorearlyOctoberandthemoistresiduegivesoutthickersmoke.

AgriculturaleconomistSardaraSinghJohlquestionsthetheorybasedondelayedharvesting.Itisjustanexcuse(byfarmers).Thisisnotthecase,Johlsaid.

Tryingtoallayapprehensionsamongfarmers,PunjabAgricultureDirectorSwantantarKumarAirisaidsowingofwheatcangoontillNovember30.

Airisaidthedepletioninthestate'sundergroundwatertablehaddroppedto49cmperyear.Beforethelaw,waterwasdepletingatarateof76cmperyear.

Paddyisaawater-guzzlingcropthatconsumes4,000litrestoproduceonekilo.

Manyexpertshavepitchedforfinancialassistancetofarmerssothattheymanagethestubblebetter,insteadofstartingfiresthanendupchokingDelhiandtheNationalCapitalRegion.

Oneoption,accordingtothem,istoincludetheexpenditureincurredondisposalofpaddystrawinnon-pollutingwayswhiledecidingtheminimumsupportprice.

FarmershavebeendemandingthattheyshouldeitherbegivenRs200aquintalorRs4,000-5,000peracreformanagingthestubblethemselves,andthegovernmentshouldpaythem,farmexpertDevinderSharmasaid.

SharmasaidRs3,000croreisrequiredasfinancialassistanceforpaddygrowersinPunjab,HaryanaandUttarPradeshtomanagestubble.

Despitetheban,stubbleburninghasgoneonunabatedatseveralplacesinPunjabwithover30,000farmfiresdetectedsofarthisyear.

Lastyear,therewereabout50,000stubbleburningincidentsinthestate,officialssaid.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, November 06 2019. 17:35 IST
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