Stubble trouble: Punjab to get Rs 395 crore from Centre soon

Chandigarh, May 17: Punjab government will soon get Rs 395 crore from the Centre to fund its campaign against stubble burning. It will be the first instalment out of the total Rs 665 crore of financial assistance that the state will receive for straw management over the next two years.

The state’s efforts to control the menace of stubble burning are under the lens of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the real test will be after the paddy harvest when farmers indulge in straw burning as a shortcut to clear their fields before the next season.

Manmohan Kalia, state nodal officer for crop residue management, said they might receive the financial assistance this month itself. “It is a part of farm mechanization scheme of the Centre under which Rs 1100 crore will be given to five northern states, including Punjab and Haryana. It will be utilized only for in situ crop residue management,” he said.

The fund will be used to give subsidy on eight key equipment to farmers to tackle paddy straw. Apart from groups of farmers and cooperative societies, individuals too can avail the subsidy.

Under the centrally-sponsored scheme, the objective is to set up farm machinery banks for custom hiring of in-situ crop residue management machinery. Financial assistance of 80% of the project cost will be provided to the cooperative societies of the farmers.

“The practice of burning of paddy straw has come down to 62% of the paddy sown area during kharif 2017 as compared to 85% during the same period in 2016. There will be a further dip this year,” said an official.
 As per Union Budget for 2018-19, the need for a special scheme addressing air pollution and to subsidize machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue was underlined. Punjab too has also made a financial allocation of crop residue management and an outlay of Rs 100 crore has been earmarked for this year. It has also been mandatory for farmers to attach super straw management system (SMS) with self-propelled combine harvester.
Meanwhile, Punjab has signed agreements with private companies for setting up of biogas plants and other steps to stop crop burning.
Source Times of India