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States told to enforce action plan over stubble burning


NEW DELHI : The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the national capital region and adjoining areas on Thursday issued statutory directions for implementation of state-specific action plans, following a spike in stubble burning in Punjab.

According to the CAQM, remote sensing data up to 24 October shows that about 39% of the sown area in Punjab has been harvested. “Rising number of fire events is a matter of concern. As per the Standard Protocol developed by ISRO for CAQM, for the period from 15 September to 26 October, 2022 total paddy residue burning events reported in Punjab are 7,036 compared to 6,463 for the same period during the last year,” the ministry of environment, forest and climate said in a press release.

The CAQM said that about 70% of farm fires during the current paddy harvesting season were reported from just six districts—Amritsar, Firozpur, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Patiala and Tarn Taran.

“These districts account for 4,899 cases as against a total of 7,036 incidents in Punjab. These traditional six hotspot districts had also accounted for about 65% of the total burning incidents during the last year for the same period. Out of total 7,036 reported cases, 4,315 stubble burning incidences were reported during the last six days alone i.e., about 61%,” the ministry added.

Based on a broad framework developed by the commission and learnings from previous paddy harvesting seasons, a comprehensive action plan was prepared by the government of Punjab. The action pillars are diversification to other crops; diversification to low straw-generating and early-maturing paddy varieties; in-situ crop residue management including bio-decomposer application; ex-situ crop residue management; and monitoring and effective enforcement.

“For effective implementation of the plan of action, the commission held consultative meetings with major departments concerned of government of Punjab… The commission has held nine meetings with officials of government of Punjab from time to time regarding various issues related to stubble burning, including five meetings with the chief secretary,” the ministry said.

In Haryana, the total number of farm fire events reported for the period 15 September to 26 October is 1,495 compared to 2,010 for the same period last year. There has been a 26% reduction in paddy residue burning events in Haryana so far during the current year, the ministry added.

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