With Punjab reported another 1,271 farm fires Thursday, taking the total number of such cases this season to 31,932, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann invoked the verses of the holy Gurbani to urge farmers not to burn crop residue as it was polluting the air.
“We are burning our oxygen. The smoke first passes through the lungs of our children and then it goes elsewhere,” Mann said.
The CM quoted the verse ‘Pawan Guru, Paani Pitaah, Mata Dharat Mahat’ from Gurbani and spoke about how the Sikh Gurus equated air (pawan) with teacher, water (paani) with father and land (dharat) with mother. He called for imbibing the teachings of Gurbani by resolving not to burn crop residue.
The chief minister said concerted efforts must be made to check the environmental pollution for which every individual should come forward.
His remarks, at a state-level function to mark the martyrdom day of Ghadar Movement leader Kartar Singh Sarabha in Ludhiana, came there is no let up in farm fire cases despite the Punjab Police sounding a red alert in all the districts, warning of legal action against those found burning stubble. Flying squads too have been keeping a vigil on stubble burning in the state.
Of the farm fires reported on Thursday, Moga recorded highest such cases at 237, followed by 170 in Bathinda, 145 in Barnala, 129 in Sangrur, 113 in Faridkot and 110 in Ludhiana, according to the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre data.
Out of total 31,932 farm fires recorded from September 15 till November 16, Sangrur is leading with maximum stubble burning cases of 5,352, followed by 2,884 in Ferozepur, 2,587 in Bathinda, 2,178 in Mansa, 1,995 in Barnala and 1,955 in Tarn Taran.
Bathinda reported an air quality index (AQI) of 385, followed by 309 in Mandi Gobindgarh, 285 in Amritsar, 277 in Jalandhar, 250 in Patiala, 246 in Ludhiana, 222 in Khanna and 176 in Rupnagar.
The Union Territory of Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, saw an AQI of 158.
Meanwhile, Mann said the state government will name the upcoming international airport at Halwara in Ludhiana after Kartar Singh Sarabha, who was hanged by the British when he was just 19.
“The state government will name the upcoming international airport at Halwara as Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha International Airport,” he said, adding that 80 per cent of work on the project has been completed and it will be operational soon.
He said Sarabha played a pivotal role in emancipating the country from the clutches of foreign imperialism, adding that as an active leader of the Ghadar Party he worked untiringly to attain freedom first abroad and then within the country.
He said that the real homage to the martyr would be to take a pledge to strengthen further the bonds of unity, integrity and brotherhood in the country. He said the Punjab government has already declared November 16 as a Gazetted holiday every year in observance of the martyrdom day of Sarabha.
The chief minister batted for conferring the Bharat Ratna award on Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sarabha and other legendary martyrs.
He said that for the first time the state government has also remembered six other associates of Sarabha, including Vishnu Ganesh Pingley (Maharashtra), Jagat Singh (Tarn Taran), Harnam Singh Sialkoti (Sialkot, Pakistan), Bakshish Singh (Amritsar), Surain Singh Senior (Amritsar) and Surain Singh Junior (Amritsar) who were hanged along with him.
He said the state government would leave no stone unturned to develop the native village of the martyr into a model one. Earlier, the chief minister also visited the ancestral house of Sarabha and paid floral tributes to the martyr.
Earlier, while flagging off anti-drug cycle rally, Mann said that forces inimical to Punjab are branding Punjabis as drug addicts to present a wrong picture of the state,
“Since time immemorial Punjab has been the sword arm of the country and its food bowl, but ignoring this contribution of Punjabis, a malicious propaganda has been unleashed by some political parties to label these patriotic sons of the soil drug addicts. Forces inimical to Punjab are hellbent on branding Punjabis as drug addicts just to present a wrong picture of the state before the country,” Mann said.
He said, Punjab was constantly attacked by foreign invaders and Punjabis faced them valiantly. Now, Punjabis are fighting a war against narco-terrorism, which is being funded by anti-Punjab forces that want to derail the state’s development, he added.
“We will together fail the nefarious designs of anti-Punjab forces. The day is not far when Punjab will be a state free of drugs. People should take a pledge to achieve this,” Mann said.