The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) said today that the problem of paddy stubble burning in the state will be contained to "a large extent" this year with the support of aware farmers and steps against those who violate norms.
We are taking all measures to control paddy stubble burning in the state, PPCB Chairman K S Pannu said.
"Less cases of stubble burning have been reported this year. We will be able to contain crop residue burning to a large extent with the support of farmers and steps being taken to stop stubble burning," he said.
Among measures taken to stop this practice, the state government has been imposing penalty on erring farmers as per a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order.
"In over 100 cases, the penalty has been imposed," said Pannu adding that about 300 cases of stubble burning had been reported so far.
As per the NGT order issued in December 2015, small land owners having less than two acres of land will have to pay Rs 2,500; medium land owners (holding over 2 acres and less than five acres) will have to pay Rs 5,000; and those owning over five acres will have to pay Rs 15,000 per incident of crop burning towards environment compensation.
The state government has also started making entries with red ink into the land records of those who burn paddy stubble.
"With the red entry into land records, a farmer will be identified as a wilful defaulter of government directions and it will also provide details about how many farmers burnt paddy stubble," an official said.
Moreover, if a government employee, who owns farmland, were to burn stubble, he or she may face action, the official added.
Action is also being taken against defaulters under section 188 of the IPC, which allows for a sentence of three months or fine or both.
Special teams at block level in villages have been formed to keep a check on stubble burning and educate growers not to follow this practice, official said.
The PPCB is collecting data pertaining to stubble burning with the help of Punjab Remote Sensing Centre which can pinpoint the place of fire.
The PPCB chairman said that some 'panchayats' in the state had resolutions not to burn stubble.
However, a farmers' outfit - Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan)- said they had no option but to burn stubble unless the government provides financial assistance.
"How can we bear Rs 5,000 to 6,000 per acre as expenditure for disposing residue through environment friendly measures," asked BKU (Ugrahan) General Secretary Sukhdev Singh.
Describing the action against farmers who burn stubble, as "cruelty", Sukhdev Singh said the NGT had asked states to provide machinery free of cost to the farmers having less than two acres of land, to farmers having medium land owners at Rs 5,000 and for the large land holding farmers at Rs 15,000.