The national capital might have suffered from the worst smog in decades but the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) seems to be going easy on the defaulters of the paddy stubble burning, that caused it. According to HT, The PPCB is yet to fine the defaulters; any of the farmers since October 28 under ‘political pressure’. Punjab will be going to elections in three months time. And the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal garners a huge amount of support from the farmers, which it does not want to give away.
A day before the hearing in the National Green Tribunal (NGT), on October 27, the PPCB is known to have fined at least 736 farmers all across the with Rs 30 lakh. Although, only one-third of the amount was actually recovered. A PPCB officer informed HT that since the cases of burning of paddy stubbles have gone down considerably; hence there have been no more challans. Earlier, after the fines were collected, the Congress had termed the fining of farmers as a harassment by the government. The Aam Aadmi Party had also come down hard on the state government for finning the farmers.
Punjab agriculture director JS Bains told HT that they couldn’t help burning the stubble as they had no machines to manage it. He informed about the insufficient funds and said that with the current infrastructure they possess, they can manage only 67,000 hectares of stubble. But the scale of paddy cultivation was over 30 lakh hectares. Which means, the state has the means to use only 22% of stubble for bio power plants or as raw material in the cardboard industry. Punjab State farmers commission consultant PS Rangi, informs that 80% of the stubble was burnt. He said that the amount of stubble rises with the rise in cultivation area. He said that although there were modern methods to stop it, they did not have funds to purchase these machines.