Punjab, Haryana farmers continue stubble-burning despite ban, demand subsidy
Despite the ban on burning crop stubble, farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been setting the stubble on fire claiming that that process is for the betterment of land.
Agricultural stubble - millions of tonnes - is burnt by farmers in northern India every October, triggering heavy pollution in Delhi-NCR before the onset of winter.
Advantages of stubble burning
- Quickly clears the field and is cheap
- Kills weeds, including those resistant to herbicide
- Kills slugs and other pests
- Can reduce nitrogen tie-up
- Loss of nutrients
- Pollution from smoke
- Damage to electrical and electronic equipment from floating threads of conducting waste
- Risk of fires spreading out of control
The NGT banned crop burning in 2015, implementing the order had been difficult for Punjab and Haryana governments. Farmers set crop residue afire mainly because of cost concerns and the short gap between summer and winter crops. Lack of incentives and equipment to cut the stubble are other issues.
Stubble burning is the deliberate setting fire of the straw stubble that remains after wheat and other grains have been harvested. The practice was widespread until the 1990s, when governments increasingly restricted its use. Courtesy: ANI news
Smoke billowing out of the field
In an order issued, in late September, the Punjab government has told revenue officials to note violations in red ink in the land record of defying farmers. Restrictions have been imposed on many others. Courtesy: ANI news
Ban on stubble burning causes labour crisis
The farmers are also alleging that the government's decision to ban burning of paddy stubble has resulted in a labour crisis as many farmers are avoiding harvesting with combine harvesters, which spreads paddy straw in fields, following which the manual harvesting cost has increased to Rs 7,000 per acre from Rs 5,500.
Haryana farmers protest against the ban
Challenging ban on stubble burning, farmers in Haryana's Sirsa gathered outside mini-secretariat in protest with a memorandum. Haryana Farmers have demanded Rs 300 per quintal for not burning paddy stubble. Courtesy: ANI news