Despite a prohibition on the burning of farm residue, farmers in Punjab's Bhatinda city are holding protests and continuing to burn stubble.
Speaking to ANI, one of the farmers said that since the government has provided no relief to farmers, they have no option but to resort to stubble burning. "We are nature lovers. But we have no other option. The government has not found any solution for us. They have not provided us with any relief. So we are still burning stubble," the farmer said.
However, a new technique is being used in Ludhiana to curb the problem of paddy stubble burning. A farmer said, "Before this, we had no solution but to burn stubble. Now, all the stubble has been cleared in six villages. It is very beneficial. We are happy. It's a permanent solution."
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had, on October 15, extended his sympathies to the farmers of the state over the prohibition on stubble burning. However, he asserted that the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) laws must be followed.
As autumn sets in, bringing along with it the harvesting period for Kharif crops, stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is causing deterioration of air quality in New Delhi and the neighbouring National Capital Region. This, in turn, has necessitated the NGT to implement strict norms on stubble burning.
Particles from stubble burning combine with industrial pollution, vehicle exhaust and dust to cover the region every year as winter approaches and wind speeds drop.
Following the directions of the Supreme Court, the Centre approved a large sum of money for modern tools and technology to combat the problem.
In the Union Budget 2017-18, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had assured to provide assistance to the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi National Capital Territory (NCT) to deal with the worsening air quality.
The decision came after Delhi's air pollution levels spiked last year, leaving people gasping for breath.
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