Punjab seeks 474 crore for in-situ paddy stubble management

If the central government gives its nod, it will be the fifth consecutive season when it will be providing funds to Punjab to curb paddy stubble burning post harvest in October-November
Paddy stubble burning has emerged as a major environmental issue in Punjab and its neighbouring states. (HT File Photo)
Paddy stubble burning has emerged as a major environmental issue in Punjab and its neighbouring states. (HT File Photo)
Published on Jun 22, 2022 10:15 PM IST
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By, Chandigarh

The Punjab agriculture department has sought 474 crore from the Centre for in-situ crop residue management (CRM) post the paddy harvest in the current kharif season.

If the central government gives its nod, it will be the fifth consecutive season when it will be providing funds to curb paddy stubble burning post harvest in October-November, which has emerged as a major environmental issue in the region.

Under the scheme, the state department plans to provide 32,100 machines on subsidy to farmers for paddy management. These include 2,000 super straw management system, 6,000 happy seeders, 7,000 super seeders, 2,000 each paddy straw choppers, reversible ploughs, zero till drill, balers, rakes and shrub master, 2,500 each smart seeders and spatial seed drills and 50 each crop reapers and self propelled reaper-cum-binders. While an individual farmer will be offered a subsidy of 50%, custom hiring centres in villages will be offered a subsidy of 80% per machine.

In Punjab, paddy is sown over 29 lakh hectares, out of which the premium aromatic quality basmati is sown over 5 lakh hectares. Along with paddy, 19.7 million tonnes of straw is also produced, which includes 2.7 million tonnes from basmati crop. Basmati straw is used as animal fodder, but the coarse variety paddy straw is mostly disposed of through burning. Farmers resort to burning of stubble to clear the fields for sowing the rabi crop (wheat) as the window between paddy harvest and sowing of the next crop is very short.

However, under in-situ management, for which funds are given, the straw is mixed in the soil, which also helps in increasing productivity. The Centre had intervened in 2018 after noticing a trend wherein the national capital and other parts of the region were engulfed in a thick blanket of smog, particularly in late October and early November, for which stubble burning was seen as the major contributing factor.

Despite the expenditure and Centre’s interventions, the number of farm fires did not see any major drop, with 2021 reporting a total of 71,246 incidents during paddy harvest and wheat sowing (up to November 25).

In the past four seasons, at least 90,000 machines have been supplied to farmers in the state, with the Centre releasing 269 crore, 273 crore, 272 crore and 331 crore in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. Apart from the CRM funds, the state government and farmers have been seeking an additional bonus of 100 per quintal of paddy produced for not burning stubble.

“Despite odds, we are making best efforts to control stubble fires. Mechanisation is the best solution to fasten the systems for crop residue management,” said director agriculture, Punjab, Gurvinder Singh.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gurpreet Singh Nibber is a special correspondent with the Punjab bureau. He covers agriculture, power sector, Sikh religious affairs and the Punjabi diaspora.

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