States should give decomposers to farmers to prevent stubble burning: Kejriwal
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday urged the Centre to direct other states to start providing their farmers with a proprietary microbial solution that turns rice stubble into natural manure for free so as to prevent stubble burning, which is a major contributor to air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
Addressing a digital press conference, Kejriwal said a third party audit by the Central government’s WAPCOS has found the microbial solution to be “highly effective” in converting stubble into manure. “The WAPCOS inspected 15 villages in four districts of Delhi and interviewed 79 farmers to understand whether the new decomposers have helped or not. The central government agency found that the farmers in Delhi are very happy with the results of these bio-decomposers,” he said.
Citing the report, Kejriwal said 90% of the 79 farmers said their rice stubble decomposed in 15-20 days only. It found that wheat production in these farms increased by about 8%. Last year, the Delhi government had provided this microbial solution for free to all its farmers. In total, the Delhi government along with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) – usually referred to as the Pusa institute, which developed this technology, used this on a total of 1,935 acres of farmlands in 39 villages of Delhi.
“The report states that farmers earlier had to plough the soil 6-7 times, but after using the new solution, the soil needs to be ploughed only once or twice. It also found that the level of organic carbon in these farms increased by 40%. Nitrogen content in these farmlands also increased by 24% and the quality of soil has also improved. The presence of bacteria that helps crops grow also rose by about 7%. The use of DAP fertilisers has also reduced to only 36-40 kilograms per acre,” Kejriwal said.
He said the Delhi government had written to the newly constituted Air Quality Commission ,too informing them about this new technology developed by Pusa Institute. “But, they told us that it is only the Delhi government which thinks it has been successful and that the efficacy of the technology required a third party audit. So, we roped in Centre’s WAPCOS for the audit and they have submitted their report now. I will seek an appointment with the Union environment minister to share the findings of the report with him,” the Delhi chief minister said.
“I urge the Centre to direct all other neighbouring states to start providing this microbial solution to their farmers for free so that we can curb air pollution this year which starts severing from around October 10 as stubble burning in the neighbouring states takes off,” he said.
Kejriwal said last year in October, the Centre in its desperate attempts to control air pollution in Delhi-NCR, proposed heavy fines and even jail for polluters, including farmers who were burning paddy stubble, leading to the city’s deadly winter smog. “But the fault is that of the governments. The fault is not of the farmers. So, I hope state governments also adopt this new technology,” he said.
Along with three new farm laws, thousands of farmers are also protesting these harsh measures, saying they cannot afford costly alternatives. Farmers across Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh typically harvest paddy in October and then set their fields on fire to clear rice stalks for the next crop.