Centre asks Punjab, Haryana, UP and Delhi to strive for zero stubble burning

Centre asks Punjab, Haryana, UP and Delhi to strive for zero stubble burning
For effective control of paddy stubble burning during the ensuing season, the agriculture minister directed that the states should chalk out a comprehensive action plan at the micro level

Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar Wednesday called upon the State governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi to strive for achieving zero stubble burning in very near future. He promised all Central help to achieve this mission and added that this is a kind of curse on these states, as they receive a lot of public ire due to negative media publicity.

The minister said, Rs 600 crore was already provided to the states this financial year and they have the unspent amount of Rs 300 crore, which should be utilised properly. Moreover, about two lakh machines have been made available to the states. The minister said, the Centre and the concerned states should jointly evolve long-term planning and must undertake multi-pronged activities to achieve the target of zero stubble burning within a specified time frame.

Tomar was taking a review meeting with the officials of the state governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi; officers of the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (DA&FW) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), on the actions taken and proposed to be taken by the state governments for management of stubble burning during 2022 season.

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He told the officials of the states to strengthen and widen the IEC (Information, Education & Communication) activities to make aware the farmers that stubble burning leads to loss of soil fertility in the long run, like the overuse of urea. He urged the officials to make arrangements to take the farmers to the sites, where the Pusa Decomposer developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research is being used for practical demonstrations.

It has been informed that the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare is continuing the implementation of the Central sector scheme on ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi’ during 2022-23 with an outlay of Rs. 700 crores. So far, an amount of Rs. 240 crores, Rs. 191.53 crores, Rs. 154.29 crores and Rs. 14.18 crores have already been released to the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and ICAR, respectively as the first installment. During the current year, provisions have also been incorporated to promote the use of bio-decomposer technology on large scale in these states.

In order to achieve zero stubble burning,  the scheme was introduced in 2018-19, with the aim of addressing air pollution in Delhi and the national capital region due to stubble burning in the adjoining states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and to subsidise machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue. Under this scheme, financial assistance for the purchase of crop residue management machines is provided at 50 per cent of the cost to individual farmers and at 80 per cent of the project cost to cooperative societies of farmers, PFOs and gram panchayats for the establishment of custom hiring centres of crop residue management machines. Funds are also provided to the states and ICAR for undertaking Information, Education & Communication activities for mass awareness among farmers and other stakeholders.

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The scheme promotes the usage of machines such as super straw management systems, happy seeder, super seeder, zero till seed cum fertiliser drill, mulcher, paddy straw chopper, hydraulically reversible mould board plough, crop reapers and reaper binders for in-situ management of crop residue and balers and rakes which are used for straw collection in the form of bales for other ex-situ uses of straw. ‘Smart Seeder’ machine has been newly added for promotion under the scheme.

According to Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India, during the period from 2018-19 to 2021-22, the funds amounting to Rs 2440.07 crores have been released (Haryana – Rs. 693.25 crores, Uttar Pradesh – Rs. 533.67 crores, NCT of Delhi – Rs. 4.52 crores, ICAR and other Central agencies – Rs. 61.01 crores, and the major share has gone to the state of Punjab i.e. Rs. 1147.62 crores).,

Out of these funds, during the past four years, the Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi have established more than 38,422 custom hiring centres of crop residue management machinery to provide machines and equipment to the small and marginal farmers on rental basis (Punjab- 24,201 Nos., Haryana- 6,775 Nos and Uttar Pradesh – 7,446 Nos). A total of more than 2.07 lakh crop residue management machines have been supplied to these established CHCs and to the individual farmers in these four states (Punjab- 89,151 Nos., Haryana- 59,107 Nos., Uttar Pradesh – 58,708 Nos. and NCT of Delhi – 247 Nos) which also include more than 3,243 balers and rakes, the ministry has informed.

What is Pusa Decomposer?

Pusa Decomposer, a microbial consortium of fungal species (both in liquid and capsule forms) developed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has been found effective for rapid in-situ decomposition of paddy straw. During the year 2021, decomposer has been used in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi in around 5.7 lakh hectare area which is equivalent to about 3.5 million tonnes of straw managed. Through satellite imaging and monitoring, it was observed that the 92 per cent area of the decomposer sprayed plots has been managed through decomposition and only 8 per cent area in these plots was burned.

For effective control of paddy stubble burning during the ensuing season, the agriculture minister directed that the states should chalk out a comprehensive action plan at micro level, establish a mechanism to ensure effective utilisation of machines, promote the use of bio-decomposer in a complementary mode with the CRM machines, promote ex-situ utilisation of straw by way of mapping demand from adjoining industries like biomass-based power plants and bioethanol plants and take up IEC activities for mass awareness among farmers through intensive campaigns in the electronic and print media, social media as well as through Kisan Melas, publications, seminars, advisories with the involvement of all stakeholders in this sector. If all the actions are taken at the state level in a holistic manner, zero stubble burning can be effectively achieved in the future.

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