In order to free the agrarian state of stubble burning menace, the Punjab Government has come out with an action plan involving the expenditure of Rs 878 crore and the first instalment of Rs 235 crore has already been sanctioned. Besides, 11 biomass power projects of 97.5 MW capacity have been set up and 23 CBG projects have also been allotted for ex-situ management in the state.The Chief Secretary, Ms Vini Mahajan, shared the initiatives taken by the state on the stubble management front with the Commission for Air Quality Management in the NCR and adjoining areas on Friday. The meeting was held to deliberate on the measures to prevent and control stubble burning in the state.The Commission chairman, Dr MM Kutty, appreciated the Punjab Government for preparing an action plan to tackle the problem of stubble burning as per the directions issued by the Commission, having components of in-situ and ex-situ crop residue management. He also stressed the need for effective monitoring and enforcement along with a plan to reduce the generation of paddy straw.
The Chief Secretary apprised the Commission that Punjab was taking several initiatives and was working proactively to control the practice of paddy residue burning. In this regard, more than 75,000 specialised equipment/ machines have been provided to the farmers besides setting up custom hiring centres across the state during the previous years.She said the state government has proposed to provide 25,000 more such machines during 2021-22 to cover peak demand, for which applications have been invited from the farmers, groups of farmers and cooperative societies.While outlining the steps taken by the state, the Chief Secretary stressed the need to compensate the farmers for the additional costs incurred by them for management of paddy straw.She said the state government, through the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, has already submitted a proposal for operational charges-cum-paddy straw management compensation to the farmers.The Chief Secretary also emphasised that considering the difficult times caused by the Covid pandemic, the Commission should recommend to the Union Government to announce suitable compensation to the farmers for adopting the environment-friendly practices of stubble management and motivate them not to indulge in the stubble burning.Additional Chief Secretary Development, Anirudh Tewari, informed that the Department of Agriculture is promoting the area under puddled rice and direct seeded rice in the state. Besides, IEC activities are also being undertaken through demonstration and awareness camps among the farming community.The Commission member secretary, Arvind Kumar Nautial, made a presentation on the subject.Principal Secretary Science, Technology and Environment Anurag Verma and Punjab Pollution Control Board Member Secretary Krunesh Garg also attended the meeting.