Firm on demand, farmers burn paddy straw

Posted at: Oct 22, 2018, 12:44 AM; last updated: Oct 22, 2018, 12:44 AM (IST)Say barely left with any alternative as other solutions unaffordable for those with small holdings

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Firm on demand, farmers burn paddy straw
Farmers under the banner of Kirti Kisan Union burn paddy stubble during a protest at Joganand village in Bathinda on Sunday. Tribune photo: Pawan Sharma

Sumeer Singh

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 21

Expressing resentment over the state government’s alleged failure to provide them viable alternative to stubble burning, dozens of farmers owing allegiance to the Kirti Kisan Union (KKU) burnt paddy straw at Joganand village in Bathinda on Sunday.

Many farmers from the village gathered in the fields and set afire paddy straw spread across two acres.

Members of the union said they were barely left with any alternative to dispose of paddy straw than to burn it.

The protesters raised slogans against the government and district administration. They rued that while it was affordable for farmers with landholding above 30 to 40 acres to purchase machinery to manage paddy straw, a majority of them, who had small pieces of land up to 5 acres, cannot afford it.

Bhagwant Singh, one of the farmers, said, “The state government had promised to provide machines used for paddy collection but that would barely serve any purpose when we do not have sufficient money or labour to transport it to biogas plants. Moreover, spending Rs 10 to Rs 15 lakh required for the entire set-up (machinery and agro equipment) is something that not every farmer can afford. It is our compulsion to burn paddy stubble else wheat sowing will be delayed.”

Singh added, “Of 1200 acres in the village, paddy was sown in around 800 acres. We have started burning straw today and if the government does not provide solution then we will continue to burn it on alternate days in future.”

Amarjit Singh, president of the union, said, “The government has failed to provide machinery for paddy straw burning. And even if machines were provided, transporting the paddy straw is a laborious and expensive affair. The possible alternative to stubble burning is that the government should provide us Rs 200 per quintal for paddy straw so that we can keep some land to dispose it of.”

“On Tuesday, we decided to burn paddy straw at Gobindpura village. Only a handful of farmers have got their debt waived. If the government keeps pressuring us to not burn paddy straw without providing any viable solution, farmers would be forced to commit suicides,” he added.

Singh said, “We unloaded two tractor-trailers of paddy straw in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office on October 18. The administration got it lifted with JCB machines. If the administration cannot manage such a small quantity, how farmers are supposed to manage large tonnes of paddy straw in the fields?”