Punjab Chief Secretary Mrs. Vini Mahajan, on Saturday, said that the state has witnessed a decline in straw burning incidents this year as 5 per cent less stubble burning area have been reported this year in the state with the effective in-situ and ex-situ management of crop residue and concerted efforts to sensitize the farmers put in by the Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh led state Government.
During a virtual meeting with the senior officers, all the Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSPs) here, the Chief Secretary expressed satisfaction over the effective steps taken by the state government to end the hazardous practice of residue burning. Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan directed the officials to further intensify the efforts to eradicate the menace. She pointed out that as many as 137.89 lakh MT of paddy has been arrived in the mandis of the state so far, which is 33 per cent higher than the previous year.
Instructing all the Deputy Commissioners and SSPs regarding the problem of crop residue burning, the Chief Secretary said that the district administration should enforce the instructions strictly to ensure zero stubble burning in coming days though the incidents of burning of straw have been less so far as compared to last year. Total straw burning area this year is 7.49 lac hectare as compare to 7.90 lac hectare last year till date, which is 5.23 percent less. 336 less cases of straw burning have been reported in a single day so far this year as compared to last year, while the arrival of paddy is 33 per cent higher.
Additional Chief Secretary Development Mr. Anirudh Tewari apprised the Chief Secretary that on October 30 last year, 3135 cases of straw burning were reported, which are 2799 this year. In Bathinda district, 202 cases have been reported this year as compared to 343 cases of last year. Similarly, in Ferozepur 290 cases have been reported this year as compared to 328 of last year and in Mansa, 151 cases, instead of 285 of previous year, have been reported, while rest of the districts have also witnessed a decline.
While taking stock of the procurement, lifting and payment of paddy, the Chief Secretary was apprised that out of total Rs.22753.44 crore, payment of Rs.22506.10 crore has been made to farmers so far and most of the paddy crop has been lifted.
Simultaneously, reviewing the situation of COVID-19 in the state, the Chief Secretary instructed to expedite the RT-PCR testing. “At present, the number of Corona cases in the state has come down just because of the testing done in large quantity”, she said, adding that more tests should be conducted in crowded areas and offices. The Chief Secretary said, as all the government offices are now working with 100 per cent staff, thus it is need of the hour to increase RT-PCR testing. She also directed the District Officers to proactively carry out awareness generation drives for dengue prevention and to strictly enforce all precautionary protocols.
Instructing officers to keep special tab on the sale of firecrackers in view of the upcoming festivals amid COVID-19 situations, she said that the entire process should be completed keeping in view the COVID-19 protocols and special attention should be paid to the sale of foreign firecrackers. Besides this, licenses for sale of firecrackers should be issued as per the instructions issued by the Government of India and the state government.
Prominent amongst others present in the meeting included; DGP Mr. Dinkar Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary Development Mr. Anirudh Tewari, Principal Secretary Industries & Commerce Mr. Alok Shekhar, Principal Secretary Finance Mr. K.AP. Sinha, Principal Secretary Medical Education & Research Mr. D.K. Tewari, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Mr. Tejvir Singh, Principal Secretary Health and Family Welfare Mr. Hussan Lal and Dr. K.K. Talwar, all the Deputy Commissioners, Police Commissioners and SSPs.