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Farmers Fined In Punjab For Stubble Burning

Punjab government has acted against nearly 3,000 farmers for burning stubble, said Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday, while accusing his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal of doing little beyond “playing” politics to discuss the problem. 

“Instead of addressing the problem, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is playing political games,” said Mr Singh, asking what the AAP leader has done on the ground to resolve the issue. 

The Punjab chief minister said the state authorities have initiated action against a total of 2,923 farmers in 20,729 cases of stubble burning reported till November 1.

Punjab government expects about 10 to 20 per cent decline in the number of such cases this year as against 2018 as a result of the intensified drive by it, he added.

While admitting that Punjab was also contributing to the Delhi smog due to the westerly upper winds, including those coming from Pakistan, the chief minister said putting the blame entirely on his state would be “absolutely incorrect.”

“Statistics show the limits on the factors on the pollution were higher in Delhi,” said Mr Singh, while accusing Kejriwal of doing little beyond playing politics.

Punjab Chief Minister Singh on Saturday had termed all anti-farmer actions being taken by his government for stubble burning as being “against my conscience”.

Elaborating on actions against farmers, Singh on Sunday said against a total of around 49,000 cases of stubble burning last year, this year the state government has so far received reports of 20,729 cases, with more than 70 per cent of the paddy crop already having been harvested, he said.

“Despite the Punjab and Haryana High Court having stayed the recovery of fine from farmers penalized last year, the state government has intensified its drive against the dangerous practice of stubble burning,” Mr Singh said in a statement.

He expressed the hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will understand and respond positively to his letter on the grave issue of the worsening Delhi air pollution.

Mr Singh on Saturday had proposed a “stubble management bonus” of Rs. 100 for a quintal of farming produce by the Centre and had sought intervention to chalk out an inter-state strategy to curb the menace of air pollution. 

Mr Singh on Sunday reiterated that his government was fully seized of the problem and was working with commitment to put a stop to the stubble burning.

The enforcement teams have visited 11,286 fire incidents sites till November 1, 2019 and environment compensation amounting to Rs. 41.62 lakh has been imposed in 1,585 cases with FIRs registered in 202 cases against defaulting farmers. 

The process of verifying the remaining fire incidents and levying environmental compensation is being expedited, said Mr Singh, adding the Punjab Pollution Control Board has also imposed environmental compensation of Rs. 62 lakhs on 31 joint harvesters operating without Super Straw Management System.

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