Both Punjab and Haryana recorded a dip in farm fires on Tuesday, the day when the Supreme Court made strict observations against the annual practice by the farmers in the two states to set on fire the stabble left in the fields after the paddy harvest.
While Punjab recorded 1,515 cases of paddy straw burning on Tuesday, fewer than 2,060 cases; Haryana registered one of the lowest counts of farm fires in the state since paddy harvesting began at 26.
According to official data from the two states, Punjab has recorded 20,978 fires this season so far while the total incidents in Hayana reached 1,605.
Hearing petitions on air pollution, a Supreme Court bench led by justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia directed the Punjab government along with Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, to take immediate steps to stop stubble burning with immediate effect.
The court on Tuesday ordered the Punjab government to oversee the implementation of court orders and ensure that straw burning must be stopped.
The state reported 5,199 and 2,487 farm fires on November 6 in 2021 and 2022, respectively, the official data showed. The total farm fires during the corresponding period in 2022 and 2021 were 32,734 and 37,933 respectively, according to data.
“We came to know about stringent directions from the Supreme Court pertaining to minimizing fire incidents in Punjab. We are already working upon a detailed action plan and will put all the efforts to stop stubble burning in the coming days,” said Punjab pollution control board chairman Adarshpal Vig.
Haryana agriculture minister JP Dalal said despite inviting the ire of the farmers the state has been pursuing the incentive-driven zero-stubble burning policy rigorously.
“We have also registered cases against those burning the crop residue. The farmers are very upset with us. But Punjab is only playing politics over pollution and indulging in blame game instead of persuading farmers not to burn the stubble,” Dalal said.