The summer stubble burning season has started in Punjab and Haryana and reports of farmers setting fire to their crop residue have already started pouring in.
Officials of various state pollution control boards, however, claimed that this year, the number of crop burning incidents appear to be lesser.
“It has been estimated that cases of stubble burning in the current season so far is 50% less than that of previous summer,” said Kahan Singh Pannu, chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB).
S Narayanan, member secretary of the Haryana Pollution Control Board, also said that the situation seem to be better this season as the number of incidents are lower.
Till May 2, 164 cases of wheat stubble burning has been detected from Sonepat, Jind, Pawal and other places in Haryana and around 250 cases have been detected in Punjab in places like Amritsar and Sangrur districts. Farmers are being issued challans for burning crops.
In 2015, the National Green Tribunal had banned the burning of crop residue in Rajasthan, UP, Haryana and Punjab.
“The state or central government has not given any bonus to the farmers for managing stubble despite an NGT order,” said Kawalpreet Singh Pannu, who is associated with Kisan Sangarsh Committee, a farmers’ body.
Experts said that unlike the paddy stubble burning in October-November, wheat crop residue burning during this time of the year is not a major issue.
“Paddy stubble has more silica, which is why it is not eaten by cattle. Cattle in Punjab and Haryana mainly feed on wheat straw. Secondly, during the winter harvest the farmers are left with a gap of 10-15 days before they go for the next crop. In summer, the time gap is comparatively more,” said Polash Mukerjee, senior research associate (air pollution) at Centre for Science and Environment.