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Punjab, Haryana farmers suffer as crop gets ‘electrocuted’

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farmers crops

Chandigarh, April 14 : Farmers in the agrarian states of Punjab and Haryana are often blamed for causing environmental and health concerns by burning crop residue but scores of farmers also suffer burning of their crop for no fault of theirs.

Incidents of standing wheat crop being burnt to cinder across hundreds of acres in Punjab and Haryana have come to light in the past 10 days, just ahead of the harvest.

The reason? Short-circuiting of overhead high-tension electricity wires that criss-cross agricultural fields in both states.

In Punjab’s Patiala district, for instance, the crop over nearly 200 acres in Kathgarh Chana and Khagta Kalan villages was burnt last week.

“The short-circuit can happen anytime — day or night. While in the daytime, the fire is noticed by someone and steps are taken to control it, at night it can cause extensive damage,” farmer Jagir Singh of Patiala district told IANS.

“We had been complaining to the electricity department officials that the loose overhead electricity wires are dangerous, but they have not replaced these on time. This has led to the damage,” he added, pointing to his own loss of over Rs 2 lakh.

The Sangrur-Patiala highway was blocked by farmers for some time last week near Sohiyan village after the wheat crop — ripe and ready after four to five months of intense effort — was damaged on five acres of land. The fire was caused by a short-circuit.

“A similar incident took place last year. The authorities failed to replace outdated electricity wires,” farmer Balwinder Singh of Jheormajra village pointed out, adding that he was going to harvest the wheat crop when the incident took place.

Officials of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) say that they try to replace the defective wires but sometimes the exercise takes time.

“Whenever we get complaints from farmers and village panchayats regarding faulty and loose wires, we try to repair them on priority. However, sometimes a delay occurs and farmers have to suffer,” an Executive Engineer with PSPCL told IANS.

Farmers rue the fact that they are forced to fend for themselves as the fire brigade facility is available only in major towns and cities.

“The fire brigade reaches the spot after one hour or even later. By that time, the fire spreads. At times, villagers use local resources to douse the fire,” farmer Gurjant Singh of Bathinda district pointed out.

On Wednesday, wheat crop on 23 acres of land of two farmers was damaged in Chugte Khurd village of Bathinda district due to a short-circuit in the overhead electricity wires.

Revenue officials have to calculate the loss suffered by farmers in such incidents so that the authorities can provide some compensation to the farmers.

Green Revolution state Punjab, which occupies just 1.54 per cent of the country’s geographical area, contributes nearly 50 per cent of foodgrain to the national kitty. The production in neighbouring Haryana is nearly 40 per cent of that of Punjab.

By : Jaideep Sarin

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])

Nature

NGT directs States, UTs to set up nodal agencies to protect, restore waterbodies

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Rainwater harvesting

Following a plea seeking identification, protection and restoration of waterbodies in Gurugram, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has expanded the scope of the petition and directed all States and Union Territories to designate a nodal agency under respective chief secretaries within a month.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the nodal agencies to convene a meeting by January 31 to “take stock of the situation” and plan further steps, including directions to district authorities for further course of action. It also directed the nodal agencies to evolve a monitoring and grievance redressal mechanism.

Rainwater harvesting

Taking note of a report furnished by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on rainwater harvesting, the Bench observed, “It appears that the CPCB has not appreciated the direction of this Tribunal on the subject. While rainwater harvesting maybe required in all buildings and other places in urban areas, in the present context, the Tribunal has directed setting up of such facilities in sub-water sheds along ponds for utilisation of surplus rainwater for restoration of the ponds which have become dry and for augmenting other ponds.”

Stating that there was a need for “continuous planning and monitoring” at the national, State and district levels, the panel observed that observations of the CPCB and an oversight committee needed to be acted upon.

“As suggested by the CPCB, a single agency needs to be set up in every State and Union Territory within one month. This work may either be assigned to the Wetland Authority of the state or the River Rejuvenation Committee or to any other designated authority such as the Secretary, Irrigation and Public Health or Water Resources,” the Bench said.

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Nature

Guterres highlights long-term strategies towards carbon neutrality

Heading towards the Climate Ambition Summit on December 12 and COP26 next year, the UN chief signalled that “the world will once again be looking to the European Union for climate leadership”.

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has highlighted the importance of long-term strategies towards carbon neutrality when speaking virtually to the European Council on Foreign Relations.

On Thursday, the UN chief stressed the need for “every country, city, financial institution and company” to adopt plans for transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050, reports Xinhua news agency.

He called for them to be ready before November 2021, when the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is scheduled to be held in Scotland, and he highlighted the importance of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) required under the 2015 Paris Agreement and “long-term strategies towards carbon neutrality”.

Pointing to its “pioneering legislation and policies”, the UN chief hailed the 27-member European Union (EU) as “a leader on climate action”, which had shown that it was possible to cut emissions while achieving economic growth.

The Secretary-General applauded the bloc’s climate action, while emphasizing that “we are still nowhere near the finish line… and still running behind in the race against time”.

“I urge you to continue to lead with concrete and ambitious near-term commitments,” said the UN chief, advocating for EU members’ NDCs to reflect at least a 55 per cent emission reduction by 2030.

Noting that “the EU has been building solidarity with the most vulnerable countries around the world”, Guterres pointed out that the bloc’s proposals to speed up how it confronts inequality and protects those affected by the transition “can set a powerful example”.

“The EU has a crucial role in ensuring that developing countries in need have the necessary support to recover sustainably from Covid-19 and to enhance their own climate ambition – through assistance for mitigation, adaptation and resilience,” the Secretary-General added.

Heading towards the Climate Ambition Summit on December 12 and COP26 next year, the UN chief signalled that “the world will once again be looking to the European Union for climate leadership”.

“I urge the EU to seize these opportunities – and answer this call for people everywhere, for prosperity and for the planet we all share and depend on,” he said.

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Cities

Over 50 monkeys poisoned to death in Telangana

Mahabubad district is known for monkey menace. The officials believe that the monkeys could have been poisoned to death for destroying crops.

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Monkey

Hyderabad: In a shocking act, unknown persons poisoned more than 50 monkeys to death in Telangana’s Mahabubabad district.

The bodies of the monkeys were stuffed in gunny bags and thrown on a hillock near Sanigapuram village. Many of the monkeys killed were babies.

The incident came to light when the villagers complained of stink and alerted the police. The forest officials also reached the hillock and to their utter shock, found highly decomposed bodies of monkeys. They believe that the animals were killed five to six days ago.

The forest officials with the help of police began an inquiry into the incident. District Forest Officer P. Krishnamacharyulu said they never came across such atrocities on simians.

As the bodies were highly decomposed, a post-mortem examination could not be conducted. The forest personnel cremated the bodies.

Mahabubad district is known for monkey menace. The officials believe that the monkeys could have been poisoned to death for destroying crops.

Some of the monkeys are also suspected to have died of electrocution. Farmers electrify the fencing of their fields to protect the crops from animals.

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