To curb stubble burning: Punjab has sent a proposal to give cash incentive to farmers, says Kejriwal - Hindustan Times
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To curb stubble burning: Punjab has sent a proposal to give cash incentive to farmers, says Kejriwal

ByHTC and PTI
Jul 28, 2022 01:24 AM IST

The proposal says ₹2,500 per acre should be given to farmers in Punjab to wean them away from stubble burning, Kejeiwal said

New Delhi/Chandigarh

Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said the Punjab government has sent a proposal to the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to give cash incentive to farmers in the state for not burning stubble.
Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said the Punjab government has sent a proposal to the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to give cash incentive to farmers in the state for not burning stubble.

Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said the Punjab government has sent a proposal to the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to give cash incentive to farmers in the state for not burning stubble.

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The proposal says 2,500 per acre should be given to farmers in Punjab to wean them away from stubble burning, Kejeiwal said. “The Punjab government has sent a proposal to the CAQM to give cash incentives to farmers in the state for not burning stubble. The proposal says that Delhi and Punjab should give 500 each and the Centre should provide 1,500. The Delhi government will do whatever is needed to curb air pollution,” he said.

HT had first reported about this proposal of the government on July 20.

During the kharif season, paddy is sown over 29-30 lakh hectares (70-72 lakh acres) in Punjab. According to the proposal, all farmers who desist from burning paddy residue will be covered under the incentive plan.

Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana is a major reason behind the alarming spike in air pollution levels in the national capital in October and November. Farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the crop residue before cultivating wheat and potato. Punjab produces roughly 185 lakh tonnes of paddy crop residue every year. Of this, 49% is managed in-situ (mixing the residue in the soil) and ex-situ (used as fuel) methods and rest is set ablaze.

“Delhi will share the cost since smoke from farm fires impact air quality in the national capital,” a Punjab government official had said. He had said the Punjab and Delhi governments will implement the scheme even if the Centre doesn’t agree. Under a Centre-sponsored scheme, farm machinery is provided to farmers at a subsidised rate for in-situ management of the stubble.

Farmers say a cash incentive can help them cover the cost of fuel used in operating the machinery.

This is not the first time Punjab will give cash incentives to farmers for not burning stubble. The governments of Punjab and Haryana had announced a bonus of 2,500 an acre for small and marginal farmers in 2019 too, following the Supreme Court’s suggestion to incentivise farmers to stop farm fires. However, a paucity of funds stalled the scheme and only a few thousand farmers could avail the benefit. The Punjab government had even requested the Centre for financial assistance but to no avail.

The erstwhile Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had told the apex court that incentive should not be given to stop people from doing something bad. Farmers can be incentivised in different ways by giving free machinery or buying stubble from them. An incentive for not burning stubble is a perverse incentive, it had said.

According to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Punjab had reported 71,304 farm fires between September 15 and November 30 last year and 83,002 farm fires in the corresponding period in 2020.

Last year, the share of farm fires in Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution had peaked to 48 per cent on November 7.

According to an analysis by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, people in the national capital breathe the worst air between November 1 and November 15 every year, as unhelpful meteorological conditions trap pollutants from local sources and stubble burning in neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

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