Rs 7,000-cr plan to douse stubble fires
Chandigarh: Facing flak for polluting air because of stubble-burning, the state government has prepared a detailed action plan to check the menace.Seeking Rs 7,091 crore from the Union Government, the state plans to incentivise farmers to the tune of Rs 5,220 crore, besides buying straw management equipment and setting up farm machinery banks for another Rs 1,109 crore. The plan is to buy self propelled combine harvester, paddy straw choppers, shredder, munchers and happy seeders to retain residue on soil surface as mulch; buy sub soilers, choppers, reversible plough and rotavators for incorporating residue in the soil; and buying rakes and balers for industrial use of stubble.All equipment is to be bought over a period of three years, and entrusted with cooperatives or farm machinery banks, which will rent these out to farmers.With its coffers running dry, the only monetary contribution that the state government will make for the implementation of this plan is towards creating awareness and publicising stubble management, creating a mobile app for renting/sharing agriculture machinery and reporting incidents of crop residue burning, if any.Other than buying machinery for “on-field” management of stubble and incentivising farmers (at the rate of Rs 100 per quintal), the state is seeking money for demonstration and training farmers in stubble management techniques, crop diversification and giving monetary incentives to panchayats to promote new technology.The action plan will be presented by Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Financial Commissioner (Development) Vishwajit Khanna to the Union Government.On an average, Punjab generates 20 million tonnes of paddy straw after each kharif marketing season. “While 1 million tonnes is used by seven biomass-based power plants, 3 million tonnes is used as animal fodder and another 2 million tonnes is expected to be consumed in the new biomass based plants and the Indian Oil Company’s new initiative to use stubble for making CNG. However, there is still 14 million tonnes to be managed, and that too within a fortnight,” said Financial Commissioner (Development) Vishwajit Khanna.