Chandigarh: As paddy harvesting is nearing, Punjab has started looking for solution to crop residue burning problem and this time the state is hoping to tackle the menace through farm mechanisation, coupled with an aggressive awareness drive among farmers. Finding mechanised route as the most suitable answer to the problem of crop residue burning, Punjab is targeting to deliver 24,972 farm equipment including happy seeder, paddy straw chopper’ cutter, mulcher, reversible mould board ploughs, shrub cutter, zero till drill, super straw management system on combine harvesters, rotary slasher and rotavator, official said here Wednesday.
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“We have a target to deliver 24,972 machines to growers, cooperative societies and custom hiring centres by October 15,” said Punjab Agriculture Secretary K S Pannu. However, 8,583 machines have been delivered so far, he further informed, while asserting that the department was making all-out effort to achieve the target. “With these machines, the problem of crop residue burning will be managed to a large extent,” he further said.
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Kharif marketing season will start from October 1. Notably, Punjab and Haryana states every year were blamed for rising air pollution and smog, caused by crop residue burning by growers. Punjab alone generates 20 million tonnes of paddy stubble annually. For promotion of agricultural mechanisation for in-situ management of crop residue, the Centre had sanctioned Rs 1,151 crore for Punjab and Haryana to address the problem of straw burning in two years. A sum of Rs 695 crore was earmarked for Punjab and rest for Haryana.
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“Out of Rs 695 crore, we have received Rs 269 crore,” Mr. Pannu said. Punjab has been using the large portion of central funds for giving subsidy to farmers for buying farm equipments. The state is giving 50 per cent subsidy on buying machines to individual farmers and 80 per cent to cooperative societies. “We are also focusing on awareness drive whereby farmers are requested not to burn crop residue. Our representative goes to every village to make aware of the ill-effects of crop burning,” he said adding, “a media campaign is also in operation to sensitise farmers through jingles,” A video clip of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh appealing to farmers not to burn paddy residue is also being run at regular intervals on radio.
Besides, a state-level campaign against stubble burning is set to be organised on September 28 and October 8 wherein school children will also be involved. A close watch will also be kept on crop burning incidents through remote sensing centre in Ludhiana on real time basis, officials said.
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Last year, around 42,000 fire incidents related to crop burning were reported in Punjab. A fine of Rs 65 lakh was imposed last year on erring farmers, official said. As per the National Green Tribunal order issued in December 2015, small land owners having less than 2 acres of land will have to pay Rs 2,500; medium land owners (holding over 2 acres and less than 5 acres) will have to pay Rs 5,000; and those owning over 5 acres will have to pay Rs 15,000 per incident of crop burning towards environment compensation.
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