Custom hiring centres fail to put check on farm fires in Karnal
the state government has provided a subsidy of about Rs 329 crore to set up about 1,320 CHCs in the state which were given about 80% subsidyUpdated: Oct 31, 2019, 22:53 IST
The much-hyped Custom Hiring Centres (CHC) set up to provide machinery at subsidised rate to help farmers manage paddy straw have failed to put a complete check on farm fires.
As per the information, the state government has provided a subsidy of about Rs 329 crore to set up about 1,320 CHCs in the state which were given about 80% subsidy (Rs 8 lakh to Rs 15 lakh per CHC). About 4,000 farmers were given machines such as happy seeder, super-straw management system (S-SMS), chopper, mulcher, cutter-cum-slasher and hydraulically reversible mould board plough at 50% subsidy.
On September 24, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar launched multilingual app-based to offer local farmers shared resources, including tractors and other farm machines at affordable rate.
But farmers were not showing much interest in the facility as there was only a slight decrease in stubble burning cases in the state which have come down to 4,211 on October 31 this year against 4,351 of the last year.
The ground reports suggest that most of the CHCs were set up by big farmers as marginal farmers cannot afford these machines. The owners of
CHCs, who had purchased these implements at 80% subsidy, were charging rent from all
Even as the government has also fixed rent rate for all machines, but the owners of CHCs were charging their own rate. Interestingly, till October 31, maximum incidents of stubble burning burning were reported in Karnal (863), Kurukshetra (898) and Kaithal (683) districts even as most of the CHCs were set up in these districts.
“We cannot afford these machines as they charge Rs 1,400 to 1,500 per acre for wheat sowing with happy seeder against the normal price of Rs 1,000 per acre,” said farmer Balbir Singh of Indri in Karnal.
Another farmer, Prem Chand of Yamnanagar, says, “Last year, I had to pay Rs 1,600 per acre for wheat sowing using happy seeder, and this year, I preferred the traditional method, which was cheaper.” On the other hand, owners of combine harvesters, which have straw-management-system, were also charging Rs 500 extra.
Owners of CHCs said the rates fixed by the government were not remunerative. “We are charging Rs 1,500 per acre for happy seeder and Rs 2,000 for mulcher. We cannot reduce the price as all the CHCs have fixed similar rate,” says an owner of CHC in Yamunanagar, pleading anonymity.
For lack of proper monitoring by the officials of the agriculture department, several CHCs are non-functional and owners were using the machines in their own fields.
However, agriculture director Ajit Balaji Joshi said, “The number of cases of stubble burning has come down and efforts are being made to aware the farmers about new techniques of straw management. The rate list of the machines was finalised by the government and farmers could register their complaints if they were being forced to pay more than that.”