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Punjab Govt Aims to Reduce Stubble Burning by 50%, Shares Action Plan With CAQM

With the implementation of the State Action Plan and dedicated District-level plans, Punjab is poised to witness a significant reduction in paddy stubble burning cases in 2023.

Shivam Dwivedi
Punjab Govt Submits Comprehensive Action Plans to Combat Stubble Burning to CAQM (Photo Source: Pixabay)
Punjab Govt Submits Comprehensive Action Plans to Combat Stubble Burning to CAQM (Photo Source: Pixabay)

The Punjab Government has submitted its State Action Plan and District-wise Action Plans to the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR & Adjoining Areas (CAQM) for the current paddy harvesting season. The state is determined to reduce incidents of paddy stubble burning through the effective implementation of these comprehensive plans.

On September 21, 2023, CAQM conducted a thorough review of Punjab's preparedness to tackle the issue of stubble burning. During this meeting, key representatives from various government departments, including the Department of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), and District Collectors (DCs), committed to taking all necessary measures to enforce the State and District Action Plans diligently.

The State Action Plan sets ambitious targets, aiming for at least a 50% reduction in fire counts in Punjab during 2023 compared to the previous year. Furthermore, the plan outlines strategies to completely eliminate paddy stubble burning cases in six districts, namely Hoshiarpur, Malerkotla, Pathankot, Rupnagar, SAS Nagar (Mohali), and SBS Nagar.

According to Punjab's State Action Plan, approximately 31 lakh hectares of land are under paddy cultivation, resulting in an estimated 20 million tonnes of paddy straw generation this year. Notably, efforts are underway to repurpose this straw for various industrial and energy generation projects, as well as for use as cattle fodder. In 2023, the state aims to manage around 11.5 million tonnes of paddy straw through in-situ management and approximately 4.67 million tonnes through ex-situ management.

To ensure efficient utilization of Crop Residue Management (CRM) machines, particularly among small and marginal farmers, CAQM has called for a detailed mapping of these machines. Punjab currently boasts 1,17,672 CRM Machines and has established over 23,792 Custom Hiring Centers (CHCs) across the state. Plans are also in place to procure more than 23,000 additional machines in 2023. Mobile apps like i-Khet and 'Cooperative Machinery Tracker' have been deployed to facilitate farmers' access to CRM machines.

In terms of ex-situ management, paddy straw will be used in various applications, including briquette/pelleting plants, bio-ethanol plants, biomass-based power plants, Compressed Biogas (CBG) plants, cardboard factories, and more. The state government has also identified land parcels to enhance straw storage capacity.

During the review meeting on September 21, 2023, District Collectors assured that mechanisms for straw management through in-situ and ex-situ methods are in place in their respective districts. The state government has planned to apply Bio Decomposer in 8,000 acres of paddy fields, further underscoring its commitment to sustainable practices.

To raise awareness and promote the reduction of paddy residue burning, Punjab has initiated a range of Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) activities. These include wall paintings with slogans, print media advertisements, hoardings and panels in prominent places, awareness campaigns in villages and schools, pamphlets and leaflets distributed to farmers, radio jingles, display boards, and more. Progressive farmers are also being recognized and encouraged to educate others about the importance of not burning paddy straw.

In 2022, five districts- Sangrur, Bathinda, Firozpur, Muktasar, and Moga- accounted for about 44% of the total fire counts in the state. To address this issue comprehensively, CAQM has held four meetings to finalize action plans and review preparedness. This year, the Commission requested specific District-wise Action Plans in addition to the State Action Plan and issued Statutory Directions for their strict implementation.

State Government representatives, including PPCB and DCs, have assured that all necessary preparations are in place to reduce stubble burning in Punjab.

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