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Farmers protest Punjab Government’s orders
Protesting against the Punjab Government’s prohibitory orders on stubble burning, the farmers continue to burn their crop residue. A day after farmers in Sangrur challenged the state authorities by setting their fields on fire, the farmers in Sheikhupura village of Gurdaspur district burnt their crop residue on Thursday as a mark of protest.
The protesting farmers said that they had no other option except to burn crop residue as substitute to stubble burning was expensive machinery, which was not a possibility for debt-ridden farmers.
“We have no other option except to burn this crop residue. Farmers of Punjab are under debt. Punjab government has not done anything to get farmers free from debt,” said the Bhartiya Kisan Union president Charan Singh.
Farmers said that they were burning stubble in protest to demand machinery and subsidy from the government. “We demand government to provide us machinery, give us subsidy and give diesel in cheap rates,” said a protesting farmer.
“We know that there is pollution due to this, but we do not have any proper solution,” he added.
Stubble burning has become a major concern for authorities as it causes air pollution as well as reduces soil fertility.
Following the orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the state government and district administration has tightened strictures against stubble burning, and booked charges against farmers, who are not following orders.
FARMERS DEMANDING Rs 200/QUINTAL ASSISTANCE
Maintaining that they have no other option than burning the paddy straw unless financial incentive is offered, the farmers on Thursday sought Rs 200 per quintal as bonus or financial assistance as per the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) 2015 order for stopping stubble burning.
Despite ban, several farmers in Punjab and Haryana continue to burn paddy stubble immediately after crop harvesting in order to sow winter crop. The crop burning is leading to heavy pollution in the air and causing breathing problems among people.
As per estimates, nearly 20 million tonne of paddy straw is burnt in Punjab every year, which becomes a major reason for pollution.
“We do not have any option except burning paddy stubble unless financial incentive is offered. The Punjab Government should help farmers by giving Rs 200 per quintal or provide financial assistance on machinery, as per the NGT order, for the disposal of straw,” Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh and general secretary Sukhdev Singh Khokrikalan said in a joint statement.
The statement came a day after the NGT had directed the Punjab Government to produce before it 21 farmers which it claimed to have helped by giving incentives and infrastructural facilities to prevent them from burning crop residue in a bid to check air pollution.
“Farmers who are already debt-ridden are unable to bear the expenditure of Rs 5,000 to 6,000 per acre as expenditure on disposing of residue through environment-friendly measures,” they said.
They also condemned the government’s action being taken against farmers who burn paddy stubble.
“Rather than penalizing the farmers, the state government should come out with providing financial assistance for farmers,” they said.
Acting tough against erring farmers, the state authorities have penalized over 100 farmers.
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