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Punjab sees 1,842 farm fires; BJP, Congress slam AAP over rising stubble burning cases

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Farm burnings continued unabated in Punjab with 1,842 stubble burning cases recorded on Tuesday even as the state’s AAP government came under fire from the BJP and Congress.

In Ludhiana district, the government has so far levied fines of Rs 2.47 lakh on farmers who burned crop residues. In addition, 79 red entries were also recorded in the income registers. Once a red entry is made in the revenue records, a farmer may not be able to mortgage or sell the land.

Earlier today, the BJP targeted the AAP government over the rise in stubble burning cases and demanded it wake up from its “deep sleep”.

Slamming Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, he pointed out that he was targeting past Punjab governments for failing to control farm fires and blaming the state for causing pollution in New Delhi.

“Why is Delhi CM still mum now?” asked BJP Punjab Unit General Secretary Subhash Sharma.

BJP National General Secretary Tarun Chugh also blamed the AAP government for its “dismal failure” in verifying stubble burning in the state.

He said more than 16,000 farm fires had been recorded in Punjab, reflecting the “inefficiency and insensitivity” of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s government to address the issue. It also showed how “pathetic” he was for the area’s environmental issues.

State Unit Congress Leader Amrinder Singh Raja Warring also lambasted the AAP government over the matter, saying the farm fires had led to an alarming increase in pollution levels in Punjab.

“It’s a classic case of Nero fiddling while Rome burned,” Warring said.

“As the AAP leaders fiddle while fighting a losing battle in Gujarat, the Punjabis have been left suffocating from the stubble fires.” Warring advised the AAP government to make time in Punjab in its “busy schedule in Gujarat” so that pressing issues in the state where people trusted them could be resolved.

He also reminded Kejriwal how he had blamed farmers in Punjab in the past for the stubble burning problem and claimed his government would fix the problem.

“What happened to your promise and what happened to your solutions? he asked the Delhi Chief Minister, adding, “Just because you have been silent because you can’t criticize the Punjab government any longer doesn’t mean the problem is solved.” Warring also asked the Punjab government to clarify its policy on stubble burning. “You offered no solution to farmers and now, when they have no choice, you are throwing business at them.” With the new incidents, the cumulative number of farm fires from September 15 to November 1 reached 17,846, according to data from the Punjab Remote Sensing Center based in Ludhiana.

The state had reported 33,175 and 14,920 farm fire cases during the same period in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Of the 1,842 farm fires, Sangrur has recorded 345 cases – the highest in the state. Ferozepur has recorded 229 cases, Patiala 196, Bathinda 160, Tarn Taran 123, Barnala 97 and Muktsar 91, according to the data.

Despite a massive sensitization exercise by the state government to discourage burning crop residues, farmers have continued to burn paddy straw to clear fields for sowing the next crop – wheat and vegetables.

On Tuesday, a group of Barnala farmers reportedly even stopped a fire brigade from putting out a farm fire.

The incident occurred in an area between the villages of Kalala and Sehjra. When firefighters were trying to put out the flames in a rice paddy, a group of farmers aligned with an agricultural union gathered on the spot and arrested them.

A protesting farmer said he took possession of the firefighting vehicle and drove it to a nearby gurudwara. He was later released following the intervention of the police.

On Monday, the chief secretary had asked all deputy commissioners to send firefighters to put out farm fires.
Neighboring Haryana has so far reported nearly 2,000 cases of stubble burning.

On Tuesday, many places in Haryana reported air quality indices in the “poor” and “very poor” categories. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Punjab was in the “moderate” and “poor” categories.

The AQI in Faridabad in Haryana was 397, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Among other areas in the state, the AQI in Bahadurgarh was 385, Gurugram 382, ​​Kaithal 345, Sonipat 336, Panipat 335, Charkhi Dadri 299, Jind and Hisar 268 each, Ambala 241 and Ambala 235 in Kurukshetra.

In Punjab, Amritsar recorded an AQI of 194, while Khanna and Jalandhar had a reading of 173 each, Ludhiana 299, Mandi Gobindgarh 121 and Patiala 240, according to the data.

Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, reported an AQI of 150.

An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51-100 “satisfactory”, 101-200 “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor” and 401-500 “severe”.

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