Stubble burning: Punjab to appoint nodal officers in 8,000 villages

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Chandigarh, Sep 29 (IANS) With the paddy harvesting season starting and the fear of environment pollution looming due to stubble burning by farmers, the Punjab government has decided to appoint nodal officers in 8,000 paddy growing villages in a move to check stubble burning.

The villages have been identified by the Punjab Agriculture Department as those where paddy stubble is traditionally being burnt, an official spokesperson said here on Saturday.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had earlier directed the agriculture department to actively engage its machinery for on-ground activities at the village level to effectively tackle the menace of stubble burning.

Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Viswajeet Khanna said that all Deputy Commissioners have already been asked to depute the officials for each of the affected villages to spread awareness on the dangers of stubble burning for health and environment.

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The government wants the nodal officers would also be tasked with keeping a strict vigil over the post-harvesting operations, the spokesperson said.

The nodal officers will undertake various activities, ranging from holding meetings with the farmers, arranging Crop Residue Management (CRM) machines, distribution of awareness material in villages, besides making announcements in gurdwaras or by other modes.

“These nodal officers have also been tasked to interact with village schools for organizing rallies and awareness lectures to sensitize students so that they could in turn prevail upon their parents to make them aware about the ill-effects of stubble burning,” the spokesperson said.

All the secretaries of 3485 Cooperative Societies across the state would be put on this job.

The services of the A1850 Panchayat Secretaries of Rural Development & Panchayats, 2000 Junior Engineers, 6000 linemen, 200 Sub Division Officers of PSPCL, 1500 officers of the departments of Agriculture, Horticulture and Soil Conservation, besides 8000 Guardians of Governance, would also be engaged for this purpose.

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State Nodal Officer for anti-stubble burning campaign K.S. Pannu stated that apart from these, for every 20 villages, an officer would be appointed as coordinating officer to oversee the activities on ground.

The Punjab government has already embarked upon a massive programme for management of paddy straw, without burning, by the farmers. “As many as 24,315 subidized agro-machines/equipments are being supplied to the farmers, Cooperative Societies and Custom Hiring Centres to achieve zero burning of paddy straw,” the spokesperson added.

Paddy is grown on 65 lakh acres of land in Punjab. After harvesting paddy, about 20 million tonnes of paddy straw is left in the fields to be managed by farmers before sowing the next Rabi crops (wheat and others).

“It is estimated that 15 million tonnes of paddy straw is burnt by farmers for early and easy clearance of the fields,” the spokesperson said.

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–IANS

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