New Delhi: Burning of paddy crop residue, one of the major causes of air pollution, has declined by 41% last year over the 2016-level in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi-NCR with the help of a Rs 1,151 crore central scheme, the Government said on Tuesday.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Director General Trilochan Mohapatra highlighted the considerable reduction in crop residue burning incidents in 2018 and said the country has demonstrated through coordinated public and private efforts that such challenges can be addressed effectively.
“…through the various efforts under the Central Sector Scheme on ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue in the State of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi’ then paddy residue burning events have reduced by 15% and 41% in 2018 as compared to that in 2017 and 2016, respectively in all these States as per the satellite data,” Mohapatra said in an official statement.
He expressed confidence that crop burning would further reduce this year.
Mohapatra said more than 4,500 villages in Punjab and Haryana was declared as zero stubble burning villages during 2018 as not a single crop burning incident was reported from these villages during the year.
Paddy crop residue burning in north-west India contributes to air pollution, health hazards, disruption of transportation, school closures and soil degradation.
ICAR said in a statement that 23 million tonnes of rice residue were being burnt in rice-wheat cropping system (around 4.1 million ha) to clear the field for conventional wheat sowing because of the narrow window (about 10-20 days) between rice harvesting and wheat sowing.
“Considering the findings of the SCIENCE article as well as reports from thousands of participatory validation trials by KVKs, our efforts have resulted in an additional direct farmer benefit of Rs 900 crore compared to a burning option,” ICAR said.
Mohapatra informed that the central sector scheme was launched with a total outgo of Rs 1,151.80 crore for the period from 2018-19 to 2019-20 to tackle air pollution and to subsidize machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and the national capital territory of Delhi.
Within one year of its implementation utilising an amount of Rs 500 crore, the happy seeder/zero tillage technology was adopted in 8 lakh hectares of land in north-western India.
“During 2018-19,the funds amounting to Rs 269.38 crore, Rs 137.84 crore and Rs 148.60 crores have been released to the Governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, respectively, for distribution of in-situ crop residue management machinery to the farmers on subsidy, establishment of Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) of in-situ crop residue management machinery and undertaking Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities for creating awareness among farmers,” it said.
During 2019-20, funds amounting to Rs 273.80 crore, Rs 192.06 crore and Rs 105.29 crore have also been released so far to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, respectively.
ICAR is implementing the scheme through 60 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) of Punjab (22), Haryana (14), Delhi (1) and UP (23).