Rohtak (Haryana): Several farmers with small landholdings said the government reached out to them to create awareness about the ill-effects of stubble burning but added that no real alternatives were offered to them.
ETV Bharat travelled across villages in Rohtak district where the maximum number of stubble burning is reported every year in Haryana.
The farmers said that if the government will not provide any solution then they would continue to burn the stubbles.
They said that they are forced to burn stubbles in the field as there is a working season is going on and they are having less number of workers. That is the major cause of burning stubbles for the upcoming crops.
However, Haryana government officials said, though they expect the instances of farm fires to be fewer this year compared to the previous year due to the easy availability of stubble removal machines, they agreed that several small farmers are already burning the residue in their fields.
Speaking to ETV Bharat correspondent, Ranveer Singh, a farmer said," My farming work took a major hit during the Covid-19 lockdown. For farmers like me, who do not own a lot of lands, hiring machines for removing stubble is not a very favourable option. We might shift if the government comes up with a better alternative."
"The government had made promises that the stubbles would be bought but no such thing was happened because till date no administration official came to talk to us about it. Although it was claimed by the administration that awareness campaigns will be conducted for the farmers from time to time, these things were yet to proceed," he said.
"We are not getting any government facilities for harvesting. Even labourers are not available at this time, so burning stubble is our compulsion. If the neighbouring state of Rajasthan will be given an exemption for 20 days that our vehicles will not be fined, then the farmers of Rajasthan will pick up all the stubbles from us and the animals will be used," said Daramveer, another farmer.
“We have reached out to the farmers to make buying and hiring machines easy and affordable for them, but for farmers with small landholdings, the machines are basically useless. For them, burning is a cheaper option than availing of the government subsidy," said Manoj Kumar, District Collector, Rohtak.
"We are keeping a close watch on these fires, but over the last few years, we have seen that the numbers have consistently gone down and we are expecting that this year too. Apart from the sarpanch of the villages, the officer of the tehsil office will be entrusted with the responsibility to explain to the farmers and yet if the farmers do not agree then we will work vigorously in this matter," Kumar added.
Meanwhile, the government data shows that last year stubble burning accounted for 44% of the state's air pollution -- an annual problem that plunges the city into a health emergency in the winter months, making it one of the most polluted cities in the world.
Experts say besides causing air pollution, burning stubble also affects the fertility of the soil as it causes loss of nitrogen, sulphur, potassium and bacteriological content of the soil.