With the national capital region still covered in poor air quality, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday said, it was not smoke from his state that was causing pollution in Delhi and stressed on the need to find ways to dispose of paddy straw, which farmers in his state usually burn in October and November.
His remarks come amid claims that stubble burning in Punjab was to be blamed for the pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region. “You keep blaming Punjab for the pollution. This morning I couldn’t come from Chandigarh by chopper because of the pollution in Delhi and Punjab had bright sunshine. So we are not giving any smoke from Punjab,” Amarinder Singh said at the 17th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.
“I don’t know where the smoke is coming from… it is coming from within this area,” Captain Singh said.
“I have 13 million tonnes of rice which has just been harvested. I have got 26 million tonnes of paddy straw and unless we find a solution for that paddy straw what will the farmer do? They cannot survive and you cannot ask them to do something,” he said.
Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Bhagwant Mann and Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel also defended the farmers in Lok Sabha last month saying that they should not be blamed for stubble burning which is being considered as one of the main reasons for air pollution and demanded that they should be encouraged to grow crops which do not leave residue instead.
They also said that the government should explore ways of using stubble in biogas and cardboard manufacturing to encourage farmers to sell it. Participating in a discussion on “Air Pollution and Climate Change”, Mann said farmers should be encouraged to grow crops like pearl millet (bajra) and sunflower as they do not leave stubble after harvest.
He said farmers grow crops which leave stubble as they get minimum support price (MSP). If the government announces a reasonable MSP on pearl millet and sunflower, then farmers would be encouraged to cultivate it, Mann, who represents Sangrur in Punjab, said.