Punjab’s four Cabinet Ministers on Monday held a brainstorming session with the experts to formulate a joint strategy to deal with stubble burning and safeguard the environment.
The state Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, Higher Education and Environment Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, New and Renewable Energy Minister Aman Arora, and School Education Minister Harjot Singh Bains chalked out a comprehensive plan, to begin from September 27, with a Mega Awareness Campaign to make farmers aware of the ill-effects of paddy stubble burning and its management.
Under the first phase of this campaign, the youth of universities and colleges will be enrolled and they will be trained by experts about harmful effects of stubble burning and absorption of stubble into the soil. After Punjabi University, special training programs will be conducted at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, on September 28; and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar on September 29. Later, these youths will visit the villages across the State to make people aware against this deleterious activity.
“A 15-day deadline has been extended for farmers to apply for subsidy on the Happy Seeder so that maximum number of farmers can plant wheat without burning the stubble…Happy Seeder machines have been provided to the agriculture block development officers for use of marginal farmers for free,” said Dhaliwal. He said that to absorb the stubble in the soil without burning, the Agriculture Department will also spray 5000 acres of D-decomposer solution as a pilot project.
Hayer said that the Government would encourage such eco-friendly industries which uses paddy straw as fuel. “Farmers will also get Rs 3000 per acre assistance through the scheme. Along with this, the government is working on a module to make it mandatory for brick kilns to use some percentage of paddy straw as fuel and this will also be implemented in other industries also,” he added.
PAU to conduct feasibility study on using FOM for agriculture
Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, will conduct a feasibility study on Fermented Organic Manure (FOM) for its utilization in Agriculture and Horticulture. Discussing ways and means to utilize FOM, Punjab Cabinet Ministers — Aman Arora, Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, and Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal — during a high-level meeting, asked the 21-member Task Force, constituted to discuss and create an enabling mechanism for off-take of FOM, to work on every possibility of using it to come up with a permanent solution to stubble management.
Promising positive outcomes, PAU Vice-Chancellor Dr Satbir Singh Gosal apprised the Ministers that experts from university have already initiated research on FOM as an agro input and its impact on plant growth and soil health. “PAU would share an interim report regarding pros and cons of using FOM in agriculture by April next year after studying two crops,” he said.
Meanwhile, Arora said that Compressed Biogas (CBG) plants are the best possible solution to check stubble burning in a scientific way and also stressed on creating an enabling mechanism for off-take of FOM generated from CBG plants.
Notably, as many as 20 million ton paddy straw was being produced every year. To meet this challenge, a CBG plant of 33.23 ton per day capacity has been commissioned in Sangrur and 42 more with a total capacity of 492.58 tons per day have also been allocated by PEDA. On commissioning, these projects are expected to produce at least 10 lakh ton FOM annually.