In Punjab, the statistics are strikingly positive. The count of fires decreased from 83,002 in 2020 to 71,304 in 2021, further dropping to 49,922 in 2022, and significantly declining to 36,663 in 2023
With the advent of winters, the rising pollution levels in the national capital becomes a major concern. The pollution caused due to multiple reasons including stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana has caused many protests and medical concerns.
In one of the recent incidents, police cases were registered against five farmers for burning crop residue in Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh, officials said on Wednesday. District Magistrate Akhilesh Singh said Ilyas, Vinod, Satbir, Suresh Pal and Rajkumar were booked under section 278 of the IPC for burning stubble and fined Rs 2,500 each. At least 25 farmers have been identified in the district in this connection, he added.
However, many leaders oppose the idea of blaming rising pollution levels on stubble burning by farmers who do not have the required machinery to remove stubble left after harvesting the crops.
Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Bhagwant Mann and Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel 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.