Centre announces rules for grant to establish paddy pellets plant | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Centre announces rules for grant to establish paddy pellets plant

ByJayashree Nandi
Oct 14, 2022 06:11 AM IST

Around 1.1 million MT paddy straw pellets can be produced per annum, if corpus completely utilised according to CPCB’s estimates.

The union environment ministry on Thursday released guidelines for grant of one-time financial support for establishment of pelletisation and torrefaction plants to promote utilisation of paddy stubble in thermal power plants and industries.

A farmer setting a paddy stubble on fire in Punjab. Stubble fires are a major cause of air pollution in Delhi-NCR. (HT Photo)
A farmer setting a paddy stubble on fire in Punjab. Stubble fires are a major cause of air pollution in Delhi-NCR. (HT Photo)

The ministry has earmarked 50 crores for the scheme which is generated from the environment protection charge being collected by the Central Pollution Control Board following a 2016 SC order which directed that a charge of 1% of ex-showroom price be imposed on every diesel car with 2000 cc and above capacity in Delhi NCR.

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The 2016 SC order in MC Mehta Vs Union of India case said the tax will be deposited with CPCB as an ‘environment protection charge’ for causing air pollution. Now the money from EPC (around 3 crore deposited annually with CPCB) will be utilised for a one-time financial support to rice stubble pellet plants that can be utilised by thermal power plants in Delhi NCR for power generation.

The one-time support is meant to cover 40% of capital costs of such plants, under which 14 lakh can be provided for non-torrefied plants and 28 lakh for torrefied plants. The maximum support that CPCB will provide for such units under the scheme is 70 lakh for non-torrefied and 1.4 crore.

Around 1.1 million MT paddy straw pellets can be produced per annum, if corpus completely utilised according to CPCB’s estimates. State governments can also provide financial support to these plants if they are willing to. The plants should be set up within 3 to 6 months of transfer of financial support under the scheme as per the guidelines.

Around 19.9 MT of paddy straw is generated in Punjab; 7 MT in Haryana and 0.67 MT in UP and NCR. Even if all in-situ stubble management measures are followed, 6.4 MT paddy straw is expected to remain unmanaged as per CPCB’s analysis.

“Its perhaps partly our action and god’s blessing that Delhi’s air quality is still in acceptable category this season. Now we are trying to see how can waste be converted to wealth. I have held a number of meetings on air pollution control in winter. All neighbouring state governments have been very cooperative so far,” said Bhupender Yadav, union environment minister.

“Every winter, paddy stubble burning is posing a serious concern to air quality and naturally to health of citizens in areas where stubble is set on fire and even in Delhi. In Punjab, Haryana, NCR paddy area is around 46 lakh ha out of which 13.5 lakh ha is Basmati paddy and that it not a cause for concern since it can be used as fodder. Around 21 million tonnes of paddy stubble is generated from the rest of the area which causes air quality concerns for 35 to 40 days if set on fire,” said MM Kutty, Chairman of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM).

“Around 11 MT of the 21 MT is being managed through in-situ methods. The rest should be managed through a variety of ex-situ provisions. For example, the pellets from the stubble can be easily be cofired in thermal power plants,” he added.

Naresh Pal Gangwar, additional secretary, MoEFCC said “the problem of stubble fires may be solved if farmers start seeing the economic and business opportunity in stubble.

Gurdeep Singh, CEO, NTPC who was also present at the launch of the guidelines said orders have already been placed by NTPC to procure 110 MT of stubble pellets to torrefied pellets. “In a few years we are looking at conversion of one or two thermal power plants to 100% biomass driver power plants,” he said.

Officials said there is a demand for stubble pellets but not adequate supply. Considering 10% replacement of coal with paddy straw in coal based thermal power plants in Delhi NCR, the annual requirement of paddy straw is estimated to be 75.5 lakh MT.

The pelletisation process involves shredding, drying, grinding and pellet making. The major difference between pelletisation and torrefaction (thermal degradation of organic biomass) unit is the presence of a torrefaction reactor.

Stubble fires contribute to 10-13% of PM2.5 pollution in Delhi during winters, with peak contribution going up to 48% according to CAQM. Over 2 lakh crop residue management machineries have been delivered and over 39,000 Custom Hiring Centres established under central sector scheme.

Under ex-situ management, efforts are being made to utilise stubble for compressed bio-gas plants, using biomass as raw material, being set up under SATAT scheme (Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation), 2G ethanol plant using paddy straw as feedstock.

Under in-situ, the PUSA decomposer is also being used for accelerating process of paddy straw decomposition.

Pusa decomposer, a consortium of seven fungi, has been developed on the basis of their lingo cellulolytic enzyme production potential. This composting technology has been recognized as the most suitable means to convert and decompose agro-wastes according to Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI).

"This is a good step forward and is consistent with the new clean air policy of NCR. This value addition to make fuel from crop residues to replace coal and other dirty industrial fuels can help to reduce pollution. This will also add economic value to the waste straw and create incentive for the farmers to not to burn it," said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director, Centre for Science and Environment.

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