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Pb, Hary paddy growers 'soft targets', say experts on stubble burning

Press Trust of India  |  Chandigarh 

Paddy growers of and have become "soft targets" as they are often blamed for causing air pollution in the region due to burning, farm experts said Wednesday, as they pitched for incentivising growers for the management of

The experts said penalising farmers without addressing their issues should not be encouraged.

Steps like crop diversification and investments in producing with paddy straw can help tide over the issue, they suggested.

A dialogue between farmers, policy makers and farm experts on farm-related issues, including burning, was held here.

"Farmers have become easy targets as they are blamed for causing air pollution in region including Delhi," policy expert said.

He said holding only farmers responsible for pollution was "biased thinking".

"In Delhi, urban class will always blame the rural people. People in do not want to reduce pollution as they want to use cars and do not want to change their lifestyle," Sharma said, adding use of thermal plants was also one of the major reasons of pollution in the national capital.

Echoing the expert's views, Principal Secretary said there were diverse reasons behind Delhi's air pollution.

"Delhi's traffic is a major reason of air pollution. Paddy harvesting is just for three weeks. Therefore, it will be difficult to accept that pollution is only caused by paddy growers of Punjab," he said.

and are often blamed for rising air pollution and smog, caused by burning by growers. Punjab alone generates 20 to 22 million tonnes of paddy annually.

Sharma was of the opinion that farm mechanisation was not a solution to the problem of

"The solution is not mechanisation. The use of machines (like happy seeder technique) could address just a minuscule scale of the (stubble burning) problem," he said.

"If we can give Rs 40,000 crore for paddy procurement, why can't the Centre give Rs 200 per quintal asbonus to growers for managing Sharma said, adding Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act(MNREGA) funds can also be used in dealing with the problem.

The experts also blamed the government policies of pushing paddy cultivation in Punjab which was initially a maize growing state.

"In a short period, farmers want to sow wheat after harvesting paddy so that the crop yield does not dip. If yield drops, subsequently his income will also drop and he does not want to let this happen. If we cannot improve his livelihood, then we must sustain his standard of living," the principal secretary said.

(BKU) alleged farmers were being bullied to shift from their traditional way of crop management.

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

First Published: Wed, October 10 2018. 18:15 IST