Chandigarh, Nov 2 (PTI) Stubble burning incidents have shot up in Punjab over the last few days with farmers apparently defying the ban as only a little time is left now for sowing wheat, officials said.Also Read - Captain Amarinder Singh To Form His New Party Ahead of Punjab Polls, Alliance With BJP Likely

With about 30 per cent of paddy area still to be harvested and Diwali approaching, the coming week is going to be “crucial” for the state, they said. Also Read - Singhu Border Killing: Second 'Nihang' Arrested From Punjab Village Over Gruesome Murder of Dalit Man

Though the total number of stubble burning incidents this year was about 25 per cent lesser than last year, the state has witnessed sharp rise in farm waste burning cases in the last few days, they added. Also Read - Only To Curb Trans-Border Crimes: BSF Says Jurisdiction Increased For CrPC Act, Passport Act

The ideal period for wheat sowing is considered to be between October 25 and November 15.

According to data provided by Ludhiana-based Punjab Remote Sensing Center, the fire incidents recorded in Punjab were 991 (October 25), 1,296 (October 26), 2,111 (October 27) and 3,162 (October 28). On October 31 and November 1, the number of fire incidents was 2,618 and 3,353 respectively.

The fire incidents on November 1 were highest in this season in Punjab.

On Thursday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had blamed stubble burning in Punjab for rising pollution levels in the national capital and claimed that the situation aggravated after October 25.

However, Punjab recorded a total of 21,013 stubble burning incidents between September 26 till November 1 as against 28,056 in corresponding period of the last year, showing about 25 per cent decline this year.

“At present, the situation is looking difficult. The number of fire incidents has gone up in the last few days in the state,” Punjab Remote Sensing Centre Director Brijendra Pateriya said on Friday.

He pointed out that farmers were resorting to crop residue burning as less number of days was left for wheat sowing while 30-40 per cent paddy crop was yet to be harvested, mostly in Malwa region.

“If it (fire incidents) continues, it will be a big problem for Punjab also (in terms of air quality). The problem will further worsen during Diwali because of fire crackers,” Pateriya said.

It has also been observed that number of fire incidents rose on Sunday, he said, calling for the need to maintain strict vigil on holidays to check stubble burning incidents.

Punjab Agriculture Director J S Bains said if wheat sowing gets delayed, there could be yield loss of 1.5 quintals per acre.

“Wheat sowing is set to get delayed by four to five days. We will recommend late varieties if crop is sown after November 15,” Bains said.

The untimely rains in the month of September led to higher moisture content in paddy crop, thus delaying its harvesting.

Meanwhile, the air quality index (AQI) in most parts of Punjab was in the category of moderate and poor, according to officials of the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

The AQI of Patiala, Mandi Gobindgarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar was 139, 139, 135, 208 and 224 respectively, they said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.