Stubble burning; Kejriwal writes to Javadekar, suggests scaling up Indian Agri Research Inst’s tech

04:54 PM Sep 26, 2020 | PTI |
New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday wrote to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, recommending scaling up the use of a low-cost technology developed by scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) here to deal with stubble burning. “IARI scientists have developed a chemical that decomposes stubble and turns it into manure. There is no need for farmers to burn stubble,” Kejriwal said. Experts at the institute have developed what they call as “decomposer capsules”. Just four capsules can be used to prepare 25 litres of a solution, using some jaggery and chickpea flour, enough to cover one hectare of land. “Scientists say stubble burning reduces soil fertility by killing the good bacteria present in it. But if the crop residue can be turned into manure, the use of fertilizers can be reduced,” the letter read. Kejriwal said this method can be a good solution to the problem of stubble-burning and the city government is going to use it at a large scale to ensure there are "absolutely no farm fires" in the national capital. He recommended Delhi’s neighbouring states should be encouraged to use it as much as possible. “I understand that there is not much time left this year. But if we come together, we will be able to stop stubble burning to some extent. Farmers in the neighboring states should be encouraged to use this technology as much as possible,” he said. Kejriwal acknowledged the Centre and states'' efforts to reduce stubble burning, but said the focus has been on crop residue management through machinery. “The Centre has been providing subsidy on farm equipment, still farmers are required to spend a lot of money from their own pocket,” he said. There are a lot of farmers who do not have machines to manage crop residue. They burn it instead. This method (decomposer capsules) can reduce the use of fertilizers and increased crop production, which is a win-win situation for farmers, he said. The chief minister also sought time from the Union minister to discuss the issue with him. Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh attract attention during the paddy harvesting season between October 15 and November 15. Farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the crop residue left behind after harvesting and before cultivating wheat and potato. It is one of the main reasons for the alarming spike in pollution in Delhi-NCR. Last year, Punjab produced around 20 million tonnes paddy residue. Farmers burnt 9.8 million tonnes of it. Farmers in Haryana burnt 1.23 million tonnes out of the 7 million tonnes of paddy residue produced. Despite a ban on stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, farmers continue to defy it as there is a short window between harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat. The high cost of manual or mechanical management of straw is a major reason why farmers choose to burn it. State governments are providing 50 to 80 per cent subsidy to farmers and cooperative societies to buy modern farm equipment for in-situ management of paddy straw, installing paddy straw-based power plants and running a massive awareness campaign against stubble-burning. But these measures are yet to make any significant impact on ground.

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