As part of the Captain Amarinder Singh government’s focused efforts to check stubble burning in the upcoming Kharif season, Punjab Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan on Friday directed the Deputy Commissioners to appoint Nodal Officers at village level to monitor and immediately report any such incidents.A unique mobile app has also been developed this time to get real-time updates on burning incidents across the state, underlining the state government’s commitment to implementing the directions of the Supreme Court in true spirit to stop the menace of stubble burning.Presiding over a high-level multi stakeholder virtual review meeting, the Chief Secretary took stock of the actions taken so far by the concerned departments to ensure zero incidence of stubble burning. The virtual meeting was attended by representative of farmers, PAU, ICAR, NGOs State Government departments, and other stakeholders.Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has been pressing the Central Government to give an incentive of Rs. 100/- per quintal of paddy to farmers, in addition to MSP to incentivize them to manage the paddy straw. However, the GoI has so far refused to give such incentive, Vini pointed out, adding that in the absence of such support, the state government was left to fight the stubble burning battle on its own. She urged the farmers to partner the state government and pledge to shun the residue burning practice.The Chief Secretary said at the virtual meeting that the Nodal Officers would be appointed especially in Hot Spot districts wherein maximum burning incidences were reported last year. Activities will be organised through Micro Level Planning at village level. There are eight hot spots in the state, namely Sangrur, Barnala, Patiala, Bathinda, Sri Muktsar Sahib, Mansa, Tarn Taran and Ferozepur. The nodal officers will verify fire incidents reported by PRSC (Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, Ludhiana), said the Chief Secretary. She further instructed the Secretary Mandi Board to set up Control Room for coordination with PRSC and District level Committees.
The Chief Secretary also directed all DCs to make elaborate arrangements for the storage of paddy straw in the rural areas, with zero tolerance towards those found indulging in residue burning. Director Punjab Remote Sensing Agency said the mobile app would help check such incidents on real time basis.Vini informed the meeting that the DCs have been directed to coordinate with the Rural Development & Panchayat Department, and others associated with the Kharif harvesting and procurement, to make fool proof arrangement for controlling stubble burning. She directed them to arrange for storage of paddy straw at the village level on common land, cattle ponds, gaushalas etc, with sufficient space to be made available for storage of Basmati straw, which can be used as cattle feed later by anyone.The Chief Secretary had earlier directed Deputy Commissioners to ensure effective dissemination of IEC (Information Education and Communication) activities being carried out in their districts so that no farmer should be left behind in the sensitization programme/campaign. Progressive farmers who were participating the conference too supported this decision and endorsed the psychological effects the various IEC activities have had on farmers. Additional Chief Secretary Development Anirudh Tewari apprised the Chief Secretary that adequate measures shall be in place to ensure that no Harvester Combine will be allowed to run without Super Straw Management System (SMS) and its use shall be ensured in field during harvesting. Under the Crop Residue Management Scheme, he said that the State Government is determined to saturate all the village panchayats, PACS, Custom Hiring Centres with the various state of art crop residue management equipment. The state has already provided nearly 51000 equipment in the last two years, which includes various individual farmers at 50 per cent subsidy and CHCs at 80 per cent subsidy under the CRM scheme.The participants were informed that all the district level committees have been asked to sanction additional 23500 CRM equipment by September 8, 2020 and to ensure that the machines are actually procured by the farmers by October 10, 2020.The State Government has also taken up with the Ministry of Agriculture GoI the demand for grant of additional funds for equipment as lot of applicants will be left behind without equipment as applicants are three times. Further, all the CRM machines have been provided to the small and marginal farmers on priority to get the maximum utilization of the machinery. These machines are to be provided without any rent.