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Stubble fires: Mann bats for cash incentives to farmers | Chandigarh News

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Friday threw his weight behind providing cash incentives to farmers to dissuade them from burning paddy stubble. At the same time, Mann said the state government has been taking several steps to check the burning of crop residue and meetings have been held to mull options for preventing the practise during the next harvesting season.

Mann said the Centre talks about motivating farmers so that they do not burn crop residue and asserted that the issue is linked to the economy. “The Centre wants to motivate the farmers but the issue is linked to the economy,” he said.

Mann said the Punjab government told the Commission for Air Quality Management chairman that if the Centre gives Rs 1,000, the state can contribute Rs 1,500 so that a total Rs 2,500 per acre can be given to the farmers for not burning the paddy stubble. “However, they did not agree to it,” he claimed.

To check stubble burning, Mann said, “We have been making a lot of efforts. We have even been holding meetings, mulling our options for next season.” Calling for the Centre to provide Minimum Support Price (MSP) on other crops so that the farmers have the choice of diversifying, Mann said the state government is willing to fund the gap if a grower goes for alternative crops.

Citing an example, Mann said if a farmer earns Rs 18,000 per acre from paddy but gets Rs 14,000 by opting for maize, the state government would fund the difference.

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“Like paddy, we have sought MSP for other crops as well. Our land is fertile and we can sow sunflower, maize and pulses. Our country imports USD 2 billion worth of pulses from Colombia. If we get MSP, we can produce it in our state,” he said.

Mann also said registering an FIR against farmers for burning stubble “is our last option”. “I also come from an agricultural background. Why will we register FIRs against farmers? But when members of a farmers’ union force officials to set paddy stubble on fire, it becomes our responsibility,” he said “In fact, everyone will have to take responsibility, not just the state government,” he said.

A group of farmers recently allegedly forced a government official, who was part of a team to prevent farm fires, to set a heap of paddy stubble on fire in Punjab’s Bathinda district

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