New Delhi: The Punjab and Haryana government officials have said that stubble burning, which is burning of paddy residue that had spiked around Diwali, is likely to continue another week.

Sources said farmers have been asked to hurriedly prepare fields for the wheat crop after rains and late maturing of paddy narrowed the window for that. 

Officials in the Punjab agriculture department said stubble burning is now likely to subside, but the pollution problem is growing each year. 

The authorities had campaigned for the use of alternative methods to manage crop residue. But the machinery for that could not be utilised optimally due to many hurdles. The management of stubble costs Rs 2,500-5,500 per acre for hiring machinery depending on the method used: mulching, making bales, incorporation or using of happy seeders. 

A senior official said: “Another 8 to 9 days and we would be through with this year’s burning.”  

Officials in Haryana voice similar concerns. “Many farmers in Haryana had tried different ways of stubble burning. But they had to light up their fields after heavy rains affected their crop,” a senior official in the Haryana agriculture department said. 

In Punjab, the number of recorded incidents rose to 42,126 till November 11, compared with 42,051 in the same period of 2017. However, that is better than in 2016, the year that recorded the highest number of cases in recent years at 76,096. 

“The number of incidents has gone down significantly. As per our estimates, we have burned around 14.5 lakh hectares of the total 30 lakh hectares in the current season. There is a drop of 20-22%than last year,” the official added. 

In Haryana, 7,454 incidents were reported so far, compared with 9,508 in 2017. “The area of stubble burning is expected to drop by 20-25% because of the campaign and use of modern stubble management techniques,” an official of the Haryana Pollution Control Board said. 

He added that many farmers have opted for greener disposal of stubble but they were hit untimely rains.