Karnal (Haryana) November 9 Despite the Supreme Court putting a stop to stubble burning, farmers are still burning crop residue in Punjab, but the practice has been curbed to a large extent in Haryana where farmers are employing better alternatives.

Solutions to stubble burning include readily available and affordable super seeder machines that pluck out the crop residue and turn it into manure, incentivising sale of fodder from paddy harvest and flexible sowing dates for paddy as also paddy varieties with shorter cycles for harvesting. Where these solutions are being implemented, like some of the villages businessline visited in Haryana, incidence of stubble burning has come down.

While Punjab government data mention about over 2,000 incidents on November 8 and 639 cases until 6 pm on Thursday, only 44 incidents reported from Haryana. Out of total stubble burning incidents of 34,413 between September 15 and November 8, about 22,981 cases were reported from Punjab while Haryana was at a distant number three position with 1,649 cases closely followed by Uttar Pradesh with 1,486. Madhya Pradesh stands at number two with 7,132 incidents.

Haryana Shows The Way

In south and west Haryana, cases of stubble burning have come down as there has been a demand for fodder from UP which has allowed farmers to employ manual labour and earn better profit from fodder.

Bhupinder Singh from Karhans village, Panipat, Haryana has been renting out his super seeder machine, which is a solution to prevent stubble burning, to farmers with a fee of ₹1,800/acre targets to cover 250 acres this season. He said the cost difference to farmers is only ₹200/acre between using a super seeder and opting for stubble burning and farmers are becoming more aware about the adverse effect of stubble burning.

In the long term, the government has to put a ban on long duration paddy varieties, said Vijay Setia, a former president of All India Rice Exporters Association. Setia suggested less than 90-100 days duration rice varieties should only be allowed for cultivation as those will give ample time for planting next crop, mainly wheat.

Gurvinder Singh, a former sarpanch of Rajgarh in Karnal district, suggested that the government uses the MNREGA workers for manual harvesting, which will not leave any straw on the field.

Some farmers also suggested the rule of paddy planting not before June 20 in Punjab and Haryana be relaxed so that the sowing starts from an earlier date and gets scattered over a period.