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Raghbir Singh Brar, Hindustan Times
Muktsar, October 30, 2013
Biomass plants at Muktsar villages, Gulabewala and Channu, and at Gadda Dob village in Fazilka, are helping the region get rid of the problem of paddy stubble burning.
The plants use the stubble as a fuel and generate electricity, in effect, making fuel from waste and also helping curb environmental pollution.

The plants also buy dry cotton plants, dry reeds, leaves and left-over paddy husk left in the grain markets, besides wheat straw as fuel.

The plants also provide employment to thousands of people, apart from generating power from waste.

"This year, we have bought 5 lakh quintal of paddy stubble, collected from about 3,000 acres of paddy fields. More than 3.5 lakh units of electricity is generated per day at our two biomass plants of 15.5 MW capacity," said Dinesh Kumar Bhardwaj, assistant manager, Malwa Power Limited.

He claimed that the power generated was enough for 100 villages.

"The plants also help the rural economy by buying the paddy stubble. We generate power from waste," said BS Jangra, head. power division of the Malwa Power Limited and Deep Development Engineer Private Limited.

"Sixty paddy bailers (a tractor-driven machine) are at work, making bails of paddy in fields. Then 240 tractor trollies bring the produce to the plant and each trolley needs five men. So, 1,200 people are involved in the seasonal work," Jangra added. The government also provides subsidy to farmers to buy paddy bailers."

"There was a shortage of paddy bailers to make bails previously, as we have no use of open paddy. Now some people have bought paddy bailers," said Dinesh
 
The bailed paddy is bought at Rs. 120 per quintal.

Jangra added that 6-7 plants were already functional in the state and if more plants used biomass, environmental pollution could be curbed.
 
"Next year, we plan to buy paddy stubble from over 40,000 acres. Stubble burning has been curbed by up to 25%. Sixteen paddy bailers have been bought at Rs. 11 lakh with 50% subsidy," said Beant Singh, Muktsar chief agriculture officer. More biomass plants are needed."

He added that plants must be located near their catchment of paddy stubble or the cost of generating power could become prohibitive.