A high-level inter-ministerial meeting was held yesterday under the co-chairmanship of Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar and Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav to review the preparedness of the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi in preventing paddy stubble burning in the current season.
The high-level meeting was attended by Surya Pratap Shahi, Agriculture Minister of Uttar Pradesh; Gurmeet Singh Khudian, Agriculture Minister of Punjab; Jai Prakash Dalal, Agriculture Minister of Haryana and Gopal Rai, Environment Minister of NCT of Delhi. Senior officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment, Govt. of India and from the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, NCT of Delhi and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) were present at the meeting.
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During the meeting, the states presented their action plans and strategies for preventing stubble burning in the current season. The states were advised to utilise the funds provided for crop residue management, make crop residue management machinery available well before harvesting season and carry out information, education and communication (IEC) activities in collaboration with ICAR and other stakeholders to bring awareness amongst farmers against paddy stubble burning.
Speaking on the occasion, the union environment minister said that efforts to prevent paddy stubble burning for the last five years are bearing good results. Due to the concerted efforts of agencies like the Commission for Air Quality Management, burning instances in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, NCT of Delhi have come down. There is a need to encourage ex-situ management of paddy straw which will provide raw materials to the user industries like power, biomass among others.
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The agriculture minister congratulated all the stakeholders for the seriousness that they have shown in addressing the issue of paddy stubble burning. He observed that due to the efforts of all the stakeholders, the events of paddy stubble burning are continuously coming down. However, paddy stubble burning is not just related to the pollution of Delhi and its adjoining areas. It is also creating a detrimental effect on the farmland by adversely affecting the soil health and its fertility. Hence, our efforts have to be both for fighting air pollution in Delhi and for protecting the soil health, thereby protecting the ultimate interests of our farmers.
“The aim in the current season is to work towards achieving zero stubble burning. The Government of India is providing sufficient funds under the CRM scheme to the four states and they must ensure proper utilisation by providing machines to the farmers in a timely manner. There is a need for proper monitoring at the state level to ensure proper utilisation of the machines and the use of bio-decomposer. The focus should also shift to using paddy straw for commercial purposes by way of ex-situ management. Awareness creation to prevent stubble burning through various mechanisms needs to be stepped up. Agencies like Agriculture Technology Management Agencies (ATMA) needs to be used to their fullest potential,” Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, said.