Turning the tide a troublesome activity

Sanjeev Singh Bariana

HARVESTING has commenced for the paddy crop and so has the burning of its stubble. The authorities equipment is counselling farmers and informing them concerning the availability of straw administration equipment to curb farm fires. However, farmers and farm unions are saying that they don’t have any financially viable choice to get rid of the stubble, so the farm fires will proceed this yr.

A senior officer, requesting anonymity, admits: “Nothing can stop stubble burning until all parties, including the department of agriculture, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and the farmers work out an acceptable-to-all solution. Any solution, ultimately, will need the nod of the Centre. And this does not look like happening.”

A farmer from Lehra Bega village in Bathinda district, Gurtej Singh, says, “Fires have already started and you will see them all over Punjab in the coming days. We are made to spend extra on clearing stubble from our fields after the harvest, without any financial support, which makes farming unviable. We need machines and labour.”

Official figures say the federal government supplied about 51,000 machines on subsidy underneath the Crop Residue Management Scheme for the administration of paddy residue throughout 2018-19 and 2019-20. Dr Manjit Singh, head of division of farm equipment at Punjab Agricultural University (Ludhiana), says the state authorities has obtained about 77,000 functions this yr for simply 23,500 machines, displaying higher curiosity amongst farmers for the stubble disposal machines.

Experts say the state has about 200 lakh tonnes of paddy stubble to handle annually. Going by the sheer quantity of the work, farmers have to be incentivised by the federal government. Member secretary, PPCB, Karunesh Garg, says, “It is too early to give any figures for the farm fires this year. Data formulation will start around September 23.”

Data from NASA reveals that in November 2016, the variety of crop residue fires was 51,150 in Punjab, nevertheless it got here all the way down to 28,078 subsequent yr throughout the identical interval. It rose to 39,231 in 2018 and fell to 26,260 in 2019. There had been reviews of rampant burning of wheat stubble in April-May this yr.

Delhi has been complaining for lengthy concerning the dangerous high quality of its air throughout specific months. Punjab is blamed as the most important offender. Punjab’s fires are larger in quantity in comparison with adjoining states primarily as a result of the realm underneath paddy cultivation is extra. In 2018-19, the realm was 31 lakh hectares, whereas in Haryana it was 14.45 lakh hectares. This yr, Punjab has about 27 lakh hectares underneath paddy.

Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan) chief Ram Singh Bhainibaga says, “Unless there are financially viable alternatives for the already distressed farmers, paddy stubble will be burnt. We have time and again demanded a bonus of Rs 200 per quintal for the crop residue, which works to be about Rs 6,500 per acre. Otherwise, at the current rate of payment, a farmer saves little.”

Farmers who’re discovered burning paddy are liable to be booked underneath Section 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code. An offender could be sentenced to a time period of 1 month together with a positive.

A senior officer says in 2019, 3,141 challans had been issued for recovering round Rs 40 lakh on account of burning paddy. As many as 322 farmers had been booked underneath FIRs. And a pink pen entry was made in opposition to the names of 510 farmers, which implies that they will be unable to avail particular authorities advantages in future.

The state has earmarked particular websites within the districts for the gathering of crop residue on frequent land/cattle kilos and gaushalas the place farmers can retailer paddy straw. This saved basmati residue could be transported to locations the place it may be used as cattle fodder. The state already has 11 biomass energy tasks producing 97.50 MW. These are consuming about 8.Eight lakh metric tonnes of paddy residue every year.

At least two extra tasks are deliberate. Eight bio-CNG and one bio-ethanol tasks, utilizing paddy straw, are more likely to be commissioned between March 2021 and December 2022.

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