With Punjab registering a two-year-high daily farm fire tally on Thursday, stubble burning is turning into a major political issue yet again even as the national capital seems to be getting choked with no let-up in the incidents.
On Thursday, Punjab registered close to 2,700 farm fires, a significant increase compared to the same-day figures of the last two years. In 2020, 241 cases were registered while last year over 2,500 farm fires took place. Corresponding with the increase in farm fires, the AQI level in Delhi continued to worsen, getting in the ‘severe’ category.
Like in the past, with no solution in sight, political parties entered into a slugfest with each other. Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal accused the Centre of “unfairly targeting” Punjab farmers over the farm fires while “ignoring similar incidents from UP and Haryana”.
But in Punjab, the opposition tore into the AAP government over the issue. Blaming the AAP government in Delhi and Punjab, and the BJP government at the Centre for the deteriorating air quality in Delhi, Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Partap Singh Bajwa accused both parties of making Delhi residents suffer through the severe pollution levels yet again.
Bajwa alleged zero coordination between the BJP government at the Centre and the AAP governments in Punjab and Delhi in addressing this menace.
The home district of Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann, Sangrur, continued to top the farm fire tally for the fourth day with 452 incidents being recorded. This season alone, over 24,000 stubble-burning cases have been reported, amid concerns that the figure could touch an all-time high.
Targeting the AAP leadership for hypocrisy over the issue, former MP and BJP leader Sunil Jakhar has said the doublespeak would hardly surprise anyone.
“The AAP regime in Punjab has failed miserably in evolving a strategy to deal with the issue which affects public health,” Jakhar said.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Jakhar pointed out that until last year, Delhi chief minister Kejriwal was criticising the then Congress-led Punjab government and farmers for burning stubble to shift the blame.
“This year, when they have formed a government in Punjab, their stand has very conveniently changed,” he added. “The Modi government had already provided funds to Punjab for machines to manage stubble, but the state government has not even bothered to ensure proper utilisation of these funds. Farmers were left with no choice but to burn crop residue.”
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