A sustained crackdown by the police and civil administration on farmers indulging in paddy stubble burning has started yielding results in Punjab with state Thursday recording 639 farm fires, a sharp 68 per cent decline from 2,003 reported a day earlier. The state had recorded 3,230, 2,060, and 1,515 farm fires on November 5, 6, and 7, respectively.
Issuing directions to ensure stopping of crop residue burning “forthwith”, the Supreme Court on Tuesday had made the local station house officer (SHO) concerned, under the overall supervision of the chief secretary, responsible for stopping farm fires.
Following the SC directions, which came amid a spike in pollution levels in Delhi-NCR, the Punjab Police chief Wednesday directed police officers to work in tandem with the civil administration to prevent stubble burning.
Police registered 251 FIRs under Section 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by a public servant) of the IPC against farmers for burning paddy straw, a senior official said. During the crackdown, a fine of Rs 88.23 lakh was imposed on erring farmers, the official said, adding there was a total number of 392 hotspots of stubble burning across the state.
According to the official, the SHOs held 1,309 meetings with village sarpanches to sensitise them about the Supreme Court’s directions. Besides, commissioners of police and district police chiefs held at least 269 meetings with farmer leaders in the last two days.
As many as 638 flying squads comprising police and civil officials have been formed to keep vigil at stubble burning, the official said.
Meanwhile, the 639 fresh fires pushed the total number of stubble burning incidents to 23,620 in the state. Sangrur continued to remain at top with 135 stubble burning cases, followed by 96 in Mansa, 83 in Ferozepur, 52 in Kapurthala and 38 in Fazilka.
On the same day in 2021 and 2022, the state had seen 5,079 and 1,778 farm fires, respectively.
Out of total 23,620 farm fires recorded from September 15 till November 9, Sangrur is leading with highest 4,205 stubble burning cases, followed by 2,259 in Ferozepur, 1,908 in Tarn Taran, 1,815 in Mansa, 1,553 in Patiala and 1,459 in Amritsar.
Senior officers of police and civil administrations Thursday spread out in fields at many places in the state to check stubble burning. Wherever they found stubble fire, officials put it out with the help of fire brigades, said officials.
Sangrur Senior Superintendent of Police Surendra Lamba said around 450 police personnel visited fields and asked farmers not to set residue on fire. “Wherever fire was found, it was put out,” he said, adding that action was taken against those indulging in farm fires.
Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner (DC) Himanshu Aggarwal said he along with the Gurdaspur SSP visited fields to check stubble burning. Similarly, Fazilka DC Senu Duggal along with SSP M S Dhesi visited fields in their areas and said they took action to check stubble burning.
In Punjab, Bathinda reported AQI at 372, followed by Mandi Gobindgarh at 354, Patiala 300, Khanna 293, Jalandhar 258, Amritsar 225 and Rupnagar 200.
The Union Territory of Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, saw an AQI of 209.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.