Punjab Preservation of Sub-Soil Water Act, 2009 prohibits farmers from transplanting the sapling and sowing paddy seeds in nurseries, prior to the notified dates. Haryana too implemented a similar law in 2009.
Prior to the enactment of this law, farmers would begin the sowing cycle in April for the crop which can typically take up to 120 days to maturity, but dates for sowing were pushed back by at least a month. In 2018, for example, the dates notified for the purpose were pushed back to May 20 and June 20.
Due to delay of sowing season, Farmers are left with very short time period to harvest paddy, clear fields and sow wheat for the next cycle. It leaves them with the fastest and most economical option to clear the fields i.e. paddy burning.
Governments are also encouraging the use of happy seeders, a machinery that lifts the paddy and show the seeds, ending the requirement of clearing the paddy before sowing the fields for next season. It also adds the organic value present in the paddy. But many farmers are not able to afford this machinery and again left with the former option of burning.