Over 50,000 cases of stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana this kharif season
The data presented in Parliament showed fines imposed by the state governments and financial incentives provided to the farmers to stop the practice failed to yield desired results.
Punjab and Haryana reported 42,337 and 12,606 cases of crop burning respectively during the Kharif season this year, even as Australia offered to provide technological help to India to prevent stubble burning.
The data presented by the environment ministry in Parliament on Monday showed that fines imposed by the state governments and financial incentives provided to the farmers to stop the practice, which is a major source of air pollution, failed to yield desired results.
The Kharif season lasts from July to October. Farmers burn residue from the Kharif crop to clear the fields for Rabi season. Every year Punjab and Haryana produce an estimated 30 million tonnes of paddy straw.
A dramatic rise in crop burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in October-end contributed to the deterioration of air quality in the Indo-Gangetic belt, including the national capital, in November.
In 2015 the National Green Tribunal banned the burning of crop residue in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, recognising that they contribute to poor air quality in Delhi NCR.
In Haryana alone, out of the over 12,000 cases of stubble burning, 236 FIRs were lodged and a fine of around Rs 40 lakh was collected in 1493 cases.
However, there has been vigorous pushback from farmers, who find themselves without a viable alternative to get rid of the crop residue from the Kharif season.
The Environment ministry in another written reply said that as part of the clean air initiative of CII-NITI Aayog, a task force headed by the additional secretary of the ministry, had been set up to look into the problem. The task force has submitted an action plan for biomass management.
Measures to check crop burning include technologies that tackle the problem on the ground by using farm implements like the happy seeder, straw management system, bio-char, prali-char.
The happy seeder technology, that uses a tractor-mounted machine to remove rice straw and sows wheat into the soil, also spreads the straw over the sown area as mulch.
The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (Aciar) has offered to help promote the technology in India, the Australian high commission announced on Monday.
“Happy Seeder is a proven zero-tillage solution -- seeds can be planted directly into stubble without the need for land clearing or tilling -- eliminating the need to burn crop residues,” a spokesman of the high commission said in a statement.
The technology was developed by scientists and engineers at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Australian engineers and scientists with support from ACIAR a decade ago.
The task force also recommended initiatives that help utilize the stubble elsewhere like biomass based power plants and mixing it with coal to meet thermal power plant requirements.
The Centre also announced that it has launched a National Clear Air Programme (NCAP) to tackle the air pollution problem across the country.
“The government has formulated the NCAP as a long term time-bound national level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner,” environment minister Harsh Vardhan said in a statement.