Chandigarh, October 30, 2023: A perusal of the action taken report prepared by the government reveals that of the 4,186 farm fire incidents reported across the state till October 28 (6,284 till date), the state government has imposed environment compensation of Rs 15.57 lakh in just 625 incidents.
Even as farm fire incidents continue to soar, with over 1,000 incidents being recorded on the third consecutive day today, the government does not seem inclined to act tough against defaulting farmers.
Of the Rs 15.57 lakh environmental compensation imposed, only Rs 2.45 lakh has been recovered. In fact, officials are yet to visit 2,021 sites where fires were reported in the state .
Cases have been registered under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code in just three incidents, while red entries have been made in khasra girdawari in just 151 farm fire incidents. These entries have been made in only two districts, Amritsar (76) and Patiala (67), while no such coercive action has been taken in the 21 other districts. There is not a single case where prosecution has been filed under Section 39 of the Air Act or environment compensation has been imposed on harvest combines.
According to the news published in The Tribune, top officials in the state government told that though they had received notices from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and National Green Tribunal (NGT), the only action against errant farmers could be the imposition of environmental compensation.
While no one says it on or off the record that they are going soft on farmers burning crop stubble, it seems that the state government is following the same approach it had followed the last year as well, when farmers had been assured that red entries would not be made against those burning stubble in their fields.
With elections to panchayats and zila parishads round the corner, the state government does not want to invite trouble from farmers and their unions.
Officials say though the number of incidents reported by the Punjab State Remote Sensing Centre are much higher, in a number of cases the satellite imagery also picks up cases where a small fire is lit for other purposes.
“There are 1,233 sites where no crop burning incidents were observed by government teams, though the satellite imagery showed the stubble on the khasra as having been burnt,” claimed a senior officer from the Department of Agriculture.
Rs 15l fine imposed, Rs 2.45l recovered
• The government has imposed environment compensation of Rs 15.57 lakh in just 625 incidents so far.
• Of the Rs 15.57 lakh compensation, only Rs 2.45 lakh has been recovered
• Officials are yet to visit 2,021 sites where fires were reported till October 28.
Fewer Farm fires this year: Addl Chief Secy
Agriculture Additional Chief Secretary KAP Sinha told The Tribune that teams of officials were visiting villages, keeping a close watch and trying to convince farmers not to burn stubble. “This, along with better stubble management practices, is the reason that the number of farm fire incidents is lower than those reported in the last two years. So far, the total farm fire incidents reported are 6,284, as compared to 10,229 in 2021 and 13,873 in 2022,” he said.