Efforts To Reduce Paddy Straw Burning Have Yielded Results: Punjab Govt

The Punjab Government, under the leadership of CM Bhagwant Singh Mann, undertook measures to address the issue of paddy straw burning in the state, said a press release based on Satellite Data by Punjab Remote Sensing Centre.

The Punjab Government’s persistent efforts have yielded impressive results and the number of fire counts has reduced from 5798 in 2022 to 2704 in 2023 which is a 53 per cent decrease, said the official statement.

The tracking of the number of fire incidents is done starting from 15th September every year.

According to the official release, Punjab is a state with 31 lakh hectares under paddy cultivation, generating a considerable 20 million tonnes of paddy straw and to address this challenge, the government adopted a comprehensive approach, implementing initiatives across both in-situ (on-field) and ex-situ (off-field) paddy straw management, driving behavioural change and communication and monitoring the implementation of initiatives through stringent review and monitoring.

The state emphasised and focussed on long-term, sustainable solutions.

The press release further mentioned that in-situ management initiatives include the provision of crop residue management (CRM) machines to farmers at an 80 per cent subsidy for farmers groups and a 50 per cent subsidy for individual farmers.

In September, well in advance of the harvesting season, the state sanctioned the procurement of 24,000 machines, with 16,000 of these already in use by farmers.

Furthermore, an allocation of 7.15 Crores was made to districts for the establishment of custom hiring centres in each block, ensuring that CRM machines are provided to small and marginal farmers free of cost.

Presently, the state has 1.35 lakh CRM machines, and concerted efforts are underway to maximise their utilisation. The state has set up a system in place to track the utilisation of these machines and weekly reviews are being conducted by the high-level officials to ensure maximum utilisation of machines.

The State has introduced an efficient and cost-effective addition to the CRM machines, namely the surface seeder, and it has been purchased by 500 farmers, said the official statement.

The in-field interventions to utilise the paddy straw have been complemented by the state’s push to set up industries consuming the straw to produce cleaner fuel and this effort aligns with the state government’s policy to create an industry-friendly environment and expand the industrial units in the state, added the official statement.

According to the press release, Driven by the government’s incentives and streamlined processes for the setting up of industries, industries utilising the paddy straw in the state have significantly increased their consumption of paddy straw, with a growth of 23.4 lakh MT since 2022.

The administration has also taken greater initiatives by mapping all industries with baler aggregators and providing adequate land for straw storage. Regular communication has been set up with all the industries to ensure a seamless supply of the straw and avoid any operational issues faced by the units.

Additional government initiatives encompass directing brick kilns to replace 20 per cent of coal with paddy straw pellets and offering 25 crore fiscal incentives to the first 50 boilers using paddy straw as fuel, said the official release.

The land is being provided by the Department of Rural Development on a lease basis for 33 years to industries committed to using paddy straw and the government is also actively promoting a PPP model for purchasing large balers, offering a 65 per cent subsidy up to 1 crore for setting up paddy straw supply chains, added the official release.

In addition to providing an enabling environment for change, the state is also taking enforcement measures to monitor and control the situation effectively.

The press note said that daily on-site visits are conducted by 8,000 nodal officers, appointed to verify the fire incidents and a data-backed approach is being adopted to monitor fire incidents at the village level on a daily basis.

The Mann Government is determined to achieve and exceed its targets and will work continuously on these initiatives to minimise stubble burning and provide clean air for millions of citizens, said the official statement. (ANI)

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