Ludhiana: As the harvest season is around the corner, the threat of air pollution in the northern region is looming due to the burning of paddy stubble.
Despite a prohibition on the burning of the farm residue, the farmers are set to go against the orders and continue burning stubble this year as well.
Talking to ANI, President of Bharatiya Kisan Union, Balbir Singh Rajewal said that he and many like him are well aware of the consequences and have no other option but to burn the dry straw.
Rajewal further claimed that the farmers do not have required machinery available, which was promised to them at a subsidised rate by the government.
“The government is implementing half-order. We will be fined if we burn the paddy straw. Secondly, they have said that the machinery will be provided free of cost. The government has supplied less than four per cent of the total machinery required to the farmers,” he said.
Considering the problems of the farmers, Rajewal said that, “the farmers will burn the residue as they do it every year.”
Apurva Prakash, Assistant Production Engineer of Farm Power Machinery, Punjab Agricultural University said that due to the high price, less number of farm equipment have been procured.
“In Punjab and nearby states people have started using the machine. Earlier, the usage was low as the cost was very high. Now, the government has decided to provide a subsidy, following which a number of farmers are procuring it,” Prakash said.
The Punjab government is building an infrastructure of straw management machinery by providing up to 50 per cent of subsidy.
Meanwhile, Pradeep Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana, denied the claims of Balbir Singh Rajewal, saying that sufficient machines are available and that the farmers are being provided with the tools at a high subsidy.
“As per our data, there was need of only 550 machineries and around 540 of them has been ordered. The subsidy has also been approved by the government. There is no such issue as claimed by the farmers,” he said.
He further said that they are closely looking into the issue of stubble burning as the harvest season is approaching. A vigorous campaign has also been launched to aware farmers about the ill-effects of burning the dry crop.
The Punjab government is also considering a proposal to bar farmers from contesting Panchayat election if found guilty of burning their stubble.
Following the directions of the Supreme Court, the Centre approved a large amount for modern tools and technology.
In the Union Budget 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had assured to provide assistance to the Government of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi National Capital Territory (NCT) to deal with the worsening air quality.
The decision came after Delhi’s air pollution levels spiked last year, leaving the people gasping for breath.