Punjab focuses on increasing use of paddy stubble in power generation

The Centre has also stepped in to tackle the paddy stubble burning issue in Punjab; apart from using thermal power plants, it has asked Punjab to use services of National Remote Sensing Centre as well
In Punjab, paddy stubble burning is a major issue in the harvesting season as the smog and the pollution hits health; PPCB has also asked thermal power plants to use stubble as fuel. (HT Photo)
In Punjab, paddy stubble burning is a major issue in the harvesting season as the smog and the pollution hits health; PPCB has also asked thermal power plants to use stubble as fuel. (HT Photo)
Published on Oct 03, 2021 08:32 PM IST
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Chandigarh With paddy harvest on since a fortnight, the Centre has pushed Punjab to focus on ex-situ management of the crop stubble. Ongoing schemes of in-situ management will continue.

The ex-situ management of paddy stubble means adopting methods in which the stubble is moved from its original place. The most common way is to tie the stubble in bundles and supply it as fuel in biomass-based power generation plants, industrial boilers and in coal based-super critical power generating units. In in-situ, stubble is managing without moving it.

The Centre’s Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas’ had asked Pnjab to do this, with experts claiming that ex-situ management involves lower cost.

Subsequently, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has asked the state’s three thermal power plants to use paddy stubble as fuel to the extent of 10% of total annual coal use. Two of these plants are with the state government; together the three consume 70 lakh tonne of coal a year.

“Trials have shown that biomass pellets can be used as thermal power plant fuels, as it give matching calorific value. Boilers can also handle this fuel in limited quantity,” said PPCB member Krunesh Garg, adding that a target of using 50,000 tonne stubble has been fixed for these power plants.



A total of 220 lakh tonne of stubble is produced along with the paddy. The biomass power generating plants in the state consume 50 lakh tonne of stubble. Of the remaining 170 lakh tonne, 100 lakh tonne (45% of total) is not managed under any technique and majority of the farmers prefer to burn it.

Due to high silica content paddy straw is not used as dry fodder, like wheat straw. During paddy harvest in October-November, stubble burning causes the formation of a smog jacket over the national capital region and adjoining states, posing a serious health hazard.

As a special effort, the state government was also told to involve the National Remote Sensing Centre and measure aerosols, the amount of stubble burnt and the release of harmful gases in the ambient air. The state has also been told to involve the Indian Agricultural Research Institute for data analysis.


By October 2, Punjab had recorded 228 cases of stubble burning with Amritsar topping the list at 157, followed by followed by Tarn Taran (31), Patiala (10) and Faridkot (9). This year, the cases have been recorded since September 15. At least 2 lakh fine has been imposed on farmers as environment compensation, and 81 cases registered.

In the current paddy harvest, Punjab agriculture department plans to give at least 30,000 machines for in-situ management with a total subsidy of 250 crore. To date, 10,000 machines have been delivered, as work started early. The machines are Super SMS, Happy Seeder, Paddy Straw Chopper, Shredder, Mulcher, Hydraulic reversible mould board plough and zero till drill.

The number of machines (76,590) given to farmers over the past three years from 2018-20 are insufficient to deal with stubble burning menace, department officials said. The Centre has provided a subsidy of 666 crore to Punjab over the past three years.


    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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