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Delhi air pollution: Red alert in Punjab as stubble burning continues, farmers to lead protest against punitive actions

Amid rising air pollution in Delhi and the rest of North India, a red alert has been sounded in all districts of Punjab to curb rampant stubble burning. Moreover, the burning of crop residue can attract legal action against violators, a senior official told PTI. The air quality index in Delhi reached 401 on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court’s sharp reaction to air pollution in Delhi, and the rest of North India, has forced the Punjab government to take strict measures against stubble burning. However, the actions have increased the challenges for Punjab farmers. Unhappy with the punitive action on stubble burning, multiple farmer unions of Punjab announced to protest on November 20 in the state, reported Indian Express. 

On November 7, the apex court had asked the Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan governments to ensure crop residue burning was stopped “forthwith”, saying it cannot let “people die” due to pollution. 

After the Supreme Court’s remarks, the Punjab Director General of Police, Gaurav Yadav appointed special DGP (law and order) Arpit Shukla as the nodal officer to monitor action against stubble burning.

ALso Read: Beyond stubble burning: Why is dealing with other ‘consistent’ sources of Delhi air pollution important 

To spread awareness about pollution caused due to stubble burning, all the commissioners of police and senior superintendents of police have been directed to sensitise farmers, citizens, and various stakeholders about the disadvantages of burning crop residue, Arpit Shukla told PTI on Wednesday.

 He also reviewed the situation of stubble burning in different areas of the state at a meeting of all the gazetted rank officers and SHOs in Hoshiarpur and SBS Nagar. He also urged the farmers to not burn stubble which is a major cause of severe air pollution in the state.

Also Read: Delhi air pollution news: AAP blames BJP-controlled cops for firecracker ban being flouted; latter flags ‘Punjab Parali’

Total farm fire cases have crossed the 30,000 mark since September 15 in Punjab

Till November 15, total farm fire cases crossed the 30,000 mark in two months in Punjab. The state reported 2,544 fresh farm fires on Wednesday. Amid rampant farm fires, the air quality turned “severe” again in Delhi and was in the ‘very poor’ category in Haryana.

Punjab had reported 67,020 and 45,464 stubble-burninghave been, incidents in the corresponding period (September 15 to November 15) of 2021 and 2022 respectively. The crop residue burning incidents are on the upswing for the past few days.

Punjab had reported 639 such cases on November 9, six on November 10, 104 on November 11, 987 on November 12, 1,624 on November 13 and 1,776 on November 14.

On Wednesday, Punjab reported  2,544 farm fires, taking the total number of such cases to 30,661 this season. Of these 2,544 farm fires, Bathinda witnessed the maximum such cases at 356, followed by 318 in Moga, 264 in Barnala, 262 in Sangrur, 253 in Ferozepur, and 225 in Faridkot, according to Ludhiana-based Punjab Remote Sensing Centre data.

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Updated: 15 Nov 2023, 11:37 PM IST

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