The Punjab government has prepared an elaborate plan involving a massive awareness drive, distribution of thousands of crop residue management machines and engaging students and religious places to fight paddy stubble burning during the upcoming harvest season.
Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana after the harvest is one of the major reasons for an alarming spike in air pollution levels in the national capital in October and November every year.
“We are launching a massive awareness drive in villages to motivate farmers not to burn paddy stubble. It will involve 2,800 camps in villages across the state to dissuade farmers from burning the crop residue,” Punjab Agriculture Director Gurwinder Singh said.
Punjab generates around 180 lakh tonnes of paddy straw annually. Farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the crop residue so that the field is ready for the next Rabi crop (wheat), given the short window between the two crops.
With pollution levels in Delhi shooting up during the winter months, the issue of stubble burning often led to a blame game between the Delhi government and the governments of Haryana and Punjab.
Punjab recorded 71,304 such fire incidents in 2021, 76,590 in 2020, 55,210 in 2019 and 50,590 in 2018 with many districts including Sangrur, Mansa, Bathinda and Amritsar witnessing a large number of such incidents.
Mr Singh said as part of the Punjab government’s plan, department officials will visit villages which report high number of such fire incidents to sensitise farmers against stubble burning.
Farm experts will also be roped in and people will be told about the farmers who have not been burning paddy and getting good yield.
“College students studying agriculture will also be involved in sending across a message against burning residue in villages. Rallies by school students in rural areas will be organised to motivate farmers not to set fields on fire,” said Mr Singh.
Mobile vans will be rolled out in villages with a message of stubble management, he said, adding daily announcements against the burning of residue have also been planned from gurdwaras, temples and common places.
Besides, the Punjab government has set a target to distribute 32,100 crop residue management machines, taking their total number to 1,22,522, Singh said.
The subsidised machines will be given to farmers under the centrally sponsored in-situ management (mixing crop residue in soil) of the paddy stubble scheme.
The state government has funds to the tune of Rs 452 crore for giving crop residue management (CRM) machines as subsidies to farmers, Mr Singh said.
In the past four seasons (2018-19 till 2021-22), the Centre provided a subsidy of Rs 935 crore for 90,422 CRM machines to Punjab.
Also, the state government will focus on ensuring the optimum use of these machines for stubble management as it has been seen during previous seasons that these machines were not utilised to their full capacity, he said.
Of 180 lakh MT of paddy stubble, 48 per cent is managed through in-situ and ex-situ (used as fuel) while the rest of the residue is set on fire.
The agriculture department also plans to launch an ‘i-Khet’ app which will provide details of the availability of CRM machines and will facilitate farmers to book them on rent.
Earlier, the Punjab and Delhi governments had proposed to give a cash subsidy of Rs 2,500 per acre — Rs 1,500 by the Centre and the rest equally borne by the two states — to farmers for not burning stubble. However, the Centre turned down the proposal.
On Thursday, the AAP governments in Punjab and Delhi joined hands to combat stubble burning by managing the straw in the fields by spraying Pusa bio-decomposer on 5,000 acres in Punjab as a pilot project.
Under the process, Pusa bio decomposer will be sprayed on stubble following which the crop residue gets mixed in the soil hence9/17/2022 12:40:25 AM the farmers will not need to burn the crop residue.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)