Punjab government on Monday claimed a majority of farmers in the state have responded positively to its appeal for not burning paddy residue.

Citing data of the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, Ludhiana, additional chief secretary (development) Vishwajeet Khanna informed that the farmers of Majha and Doaba region of Punjab, barring districts of Amritsar and Tarn Taran, have drastically reduced the incidents of paddy residue burning as compared to last year.

He profusely thanked the farmers for help in saving the environment, soil and human health, as the Air Quality in Punjab has remained much better this year compared to previous years.

Ropar has shown the largest decline of 60 per cent in crop burning cases this year as compared to last year, followed by 53 per cent decline in SBS Nagar.

Similarly, the decline in farm fires was witnessed in Hoshiarpur (-45 per cent), Kapurthala (-41 per cent), Fatehgarh Sahib (-33 per cent), Ludhiana (-26 per cent), Pathankot (25 per cent), Jalandhar (-22 per cent), Gurdaspur (-14 per cent), SAS Nagar (-14 per cent), Sangrur and Patiala (-2 per cent).

The trend of higher incidents of farm fires was mainly witnessed in south Punjab. Highest farm fires without any decline  were seen in Bathinda District (5341), followed by Ferozepur (4895), Sri Muktsar Sahib (4721), Mansa (3578), Moga (3202) and Barnala (2688).

Although small decline was observed in stubble burning in district Sangrur and Patiala but the number of farm fires were highest in Sangrur (6828) and was substantial in Patiala (3780).

Together these eight districts contributed about 75 per cent of farm fires in Punjab. This was mainly attributable to end September heavy rains in the area.Incidentally 1374 villages in Punjab observed zero burning of paddy residue

Special campaign will be taken up in these eight districts next year in collaboration with Punjab Agriculture University and NGOs to take farmers on board not to burn paddy straw, in addition to providing requisite machines for incorporating straw into soil, informed secretary agriculture and nodal officer for campaign against stubble burning, KS Pannu.