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Anti-stubble burning awareness duties rankle Gurdaspur teachers

Chandigarh: The teaching fraternity of Punjab's Gurdaspur district has demanded withdrawal of the order which has directed them to carry out anti-stubble burning awareness.

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The government teachers, who have been appointed as nodal officers by the Gurdaspur district administration in their drive against crop residue burning, have sought withdrawal of the order, claiming they have been assigned villages which are "located at far off areas" and that the duties were clashing with their teaching schedule.

Harjinder Singh, general secretary of Gurdaspur Democratic Teachers Front, on Wednesday said, "The teachers have been appointed as nodal officers by the Gurdaspur administration to check stubble burning in villages. But it is not our (teachers) duty to stop crop residue burning."

Singh claimed some teachers had been assigned villages which were 50 km to 60 km away from their respective schools and homes. "We (teachers) will have to travel about 60 km every day after school hours to perform the job of nodal officers, which is not feasible. These duties have been assigned to some female teachers as well as some handicapped persons," said Singh.

Singh said instead of government teachers, the administration should involve Patwaris, Lambardars and other revenue officials in this drive.

Some teachers have expressed unwillingness to take part in the drive saying they may "face the wrath of farmers" on the issue.

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The Gurdaspur district administration had appointed 150 teachers as nodal officers for creating awareness among farmers on the ill-effects of stubble burning, officials said, adding that each teacher had been assigned one village.

Stating that the matter was being blown out of proportion, Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner Vipul Ujwal said he will ask the concerned officers to withdraw the order as the administration does not want to carry out the awareness drive on a negative note.

"The orders have been misconstrued by the teachers. Their job was just to create awareness. They did not have to perform any enforcement duty which would be taken care of by the police and revenue officials, explained Ujwal.

Ujwal said the teachers had been appointed nodal officers in those villages where they were teaching in schools.

He further pointed out that only middle and senior school faculty had been assigned awareness duties.

The DC said it is the responsibility of every citizen of Punjab to create awareness on stubble burning.

Earlier, the Punjab government had appointed nodal officers in 8,000 paddy growing villages in the state to spread awareness on the ills of stubble burning.

These nodal officers had been tasked to reach out to village schools for organising rallies and awareness lectures to sensitise students, so that they could prevail on their parents and stop them from burning crop residue.

The secretaries of cooperative societies, panchayat secretaries of rural development, junior engineers, linemen, sub-division officers of PSPCL, officers of the departments of agriculture, horticulture and soil conservation had been engaged for this purpose.

Also Read: Stubble burning: Farmers' concerns highlighted



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