Union Cabinet Secretary has asked the State Administration of Punjab to take effective actions to stop stubble burning in the remaining days of this harvest season. The directive has come after an emergency meeting attended by the chief secretaries and other senior officers of Punjab, Haryana, UP & Rajasthan and NCT of Delhi. The meeting, chaired by the cabinet secretary, was also attended by the chairman, Commission on Air Quality Management (CAQM) and Secretaries of Ministries of Environment & Forests, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Affairs and Power. 

The CAQM data and the inputs provided by State governments had shown the current crisis situation is majorly on account of stubble burning as 38% of air pollution level was contributed by stubble burning on November 8. The data indicates that for the period from 15th September to 7th November, a total of 22,644 stubble-burning events have been recorded, out of which 20,978 (93%) were in Punjab and 1,605 (7%) in Haryana. It was also found that harvesting is more than 90% complete in Haryana, whereas it is 60% complete in Punjab, the reason the state was asked to take immediate steps to check further stubble burning during the remaining harvesting season. 

The meeting, called on the basis of a Supreme Court directive wanted CAQM to send out flying squads to Punjab & Haryana and submit daily reports on the incidents of farm fires and status of enforcement. The state governments were also asked to take follow up actions in respect of cases instituted during the last two years for violation of ban on stubble burning and share the details with the CAQM. 

The meeting noted that ₹3,333 crore - ₹1,531 crore to Punjab and ₹1,006 crore to Haryana - has been released by the Ministry of Agriculture under the Crop Residue Management (CRM) scheme so far. It also pointed out that nearly 1.20 lakh seeder machines are available under the CRM Scheme in Punjab and 76,000 in Haryana. 

It was observed that optimum utilisation of these machines could have prevented stubble burning to such a large extent. State governments of Punjab and Haryana were directed to use available seeder machines to prevent further stubble burning.

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