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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Delay in delivery of machines hampers drive against farm fires

chandigarh Updated: Oct 12, 2019 00:16 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Members of BKU burning stubble at the  Fatepur Bakshiwala village on Bhadson Road in Patiala
Members of BKU burning stubble at the Fatepur Bakshiwala village on Bhadson Road in Patiala (HT Photo)

Against the target to deliver 28,000 subsidised machines to Punjab farmers for in-situ management of paddy stubble, only 6,286 have been delivered so far, hampering the drive against straw burning.

A variety of machines, including happy seeders, multchers, straw shredders and super straw management system, are to be given on 50% subsidy to an individual farmer and 80% to farmer groups. The agriculture department has received 14,500 applications for straw management machines so far.

The state has reported 623 cases of paddy stubble burning since September 23.

The agriculture department attributes the delay in delivery of machines to floods in August and prolonged rainfall at the crop maturing stage. The empanelment process of vendors by the Union agriculture ministry, which ended in August, also delayed the delivery process, prompting the state government to ask Centre to extend the last date for giving machines from September 30 to November 15.

The government has fixed a target to procure 170 lakh tonnes of paddy this season of which 3.5 lakh tonnes has arrived in the grain markets. The procurement is expected to by mid-November.

“There would be steep rise in stubble fire cases by month-end and it will be difficult for us to control it,” said Krunesh Garg, member secretary of the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

Though the number of stubble fire cases increased to 49,950 last year as compared to 46,000 in 2017, the area under farm fires fell by 9.95%.

Of the ₹1,150 crore sanctioned to stop stubble burning in paddy growing states, Punjab got ₹665 crore, which was to be spent in two years. This year, ₹256 crore is to be spent on giving subsidised machines to farmers.

Additional chief secretary (agriculture) Viswajeeet Khanna said efforts are on to deliver the machines so that farmers can use them effectively to prepare their fields for wheat sowing.

First Published: Oct 12, 2019 00:16 IST

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