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Stubble burning: Punjab makes red entries in land records of over 4k farmers

Stubble burning: Punjab makes red entries in land records of over 4k farmers

As per the decision of the state government, once a red entry is made in the land record for stubble burning, a farmer may not be able to take a loan against the said land, mortgage it or sell it

The Punjab revenue department has marked red entries into the land records of 4,342 farmers, who resorted to the burning of paddy stubble on their farms during the paddy harvest season.

According to the agriculture department, 97% paddy harvest in the state has already been done and wheat has been sown over more than 80% area.

Though the impact of red entries is still to be seen. As per the decision of the state government once a red entry is made, a farmer may not be able to take a loan against the said land, mortgage it or sell it.

Also, 6,180 farmers have been imposed environmental compensation (penalty) for violating the government orders of not burning the paddy straw. However, the rate recovery was negligible as till November 14, a total of 1.58 crore penalty was imposed on the farmers, and only 12,500 have been recovered. Last year, till the end of the season (November 30) 2.85 crore penalty was imposed, and only 2 lakh were recovered.

Environmental compensation (penalty) is imposed on farmers under orders from the National Green Tribunal (NGT). As per NGT orders, it has asked the state government agencies to impose a penalty of 2,500 on farmers who burn stubble up to 2 acres; 5,000 to farmers who set on fire stubble over 2-5 acres and 15,000 on farmers who sets ablaze stubble over more than 5 acres. The penalty is recovered as compensation for the damage caused to the environment.

A senior officer in the government said that these figures were compiled until November 14, and the final tally is expected by November 30, considered the end of the Kharif harvest.

As per the data compiled by the state revenue department, so far, (as on Nov 14), out of a total of 45,323 cases of farm fires, the monitoring teams visited 28,675 sites and out of which 9,502 were confirmed as having burnt paddy straw.

Sources in the government revealed that farmers in district Patiala are facing most of the entries this season (1,824), which is 97% of the sites (1,890) confirmed as having burnt paddy straw.

Interestingly, in Punjab chief minister’s home district Sangrur, the number of sites confirmed as having burnt paddy straw is less – 834. Here red entries have been made in 821 cases which amount to 98% of the total confirmed paddy straw burning cases. In Patiala, environmental compensation was imposed on 1,836 farmers and 821 in Sangrur.

In district Malerkotla, all (100%) cases (32) which were confirmed as having burnt paddy straw were marked with red entries. In the district, environmental compensation has been imposed on 12 farmers.

In district Ludhiana, 469 red entries have been marked in farmers’ land records which is 74% of the total sites confirmed as having burnt the stubble, with Tarn Taran making red entries in 343 (21%) cases and Amritsar in 316 (61%) cases. In these districts, environmental compensation has been imposed on 524, 569 and 373 farmers, respectively.

In districts of Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Moga, Muktsar, Ropar and Nawanshahr, no red entry has been marked in the farmers’ land records, and in Fazilka and Ferozepur districts, one entry each has been marked. In Bathinda, Hoshiarpur and Moga, the notices of recovery of penalty were issued to 76, four and 16 farmers, respectively. In Muktsar, no penalty has been imposed so far, while there are 72 cases in Ferozepur, 22 in Ropar, followed by eight in Nawanshahr and one in Fazilka.

Speaking on the difference in the number of farm fires, red entries and penalties imposed in the districts, a senior official said that it’s a work in progress and a clear picture would emerge after the end of the season when all the figures are compiled.

It is pertinent to mention that the commission for air quality monitoring (CAQM) and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the governments of three paddy-growing states – Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh to stop the farm fires. “We are under pressure from these two bodies, which have quasi-judicial powers as they want penal action in case farmers default and resort to burning paddy straw,” an official said.

At the onset of the paddy harvest in the first week of October, a communication was rolled out to all the deputy commissioners across the state directing them to keep a record of farmers indulging in the burning of crop residue, by making a red entry in their land records.

According to Punjab chief secretary VK Janjua the trends (of stubble burning), this year will be studied closely, and a blueprint would be prepared for the next season, for which chief minister Bhagwant Mann has already made an announcement. “We plan to have a micro-level intervention for which preparations would start immediately after the end of this season,” he added.

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