Delhi CM 'Officially Refused' To Use Pusa Bio-decomposer In Punjab: Bhupender Yadav
Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav on Thursday said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had 'officially refused' to use bio-decomposer to prevent stubble burning in Punjab.
Kejriwal had on Wednesday blamed the central government for rising incidents of stubble burning in Punjab ruled by his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), saying it had 'declined' requests to provide cash incentive to farmers for not burning crop residue.
'The Delhi CM had earlier written a letter to the Centre, saying the implementation of Pusa bio-decomposer had been successful in Delhi. But he himself officially refused to use it in Punjab,' the Union Minister told reporters here.
Yadav also said no minister or representative of the Delhi government participated in the National Conference of Environment Ministers at Ekta Nagar in Gujarat in September, though 'ministers and officials of the Punjab government attended it'.
Pusa Bio-decomposer: 'Effective or Non-effective'
Prepared by scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) here, the Pusa bio-decomposer is a microbial solution which can turn paddy straw into manure in 15-20 days and prevent stubble burning, a major reason behind a spike in air pollution in Delhi-NCR in October-November.
The share of stubble burning in Delhi's PM2.5 pollution jumped to 38 per cent on Thursday, the highest this season so far. Experts said it was the reason behind the thick layer of pungent smog over the national capital.
An official said the Ministry had repeatedly asked the Punjab government to scale up the use of bio-decomposer but 'they are only doing it on an experimental basis on 5,000 acres of land'.
Asked why Punjab is not using it, the official said, 'The state has said it is not effective.'
Farmers in Punjab say paddy stubble can be decomposed in around 20 days without using the bio-decomposer.
The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) had conducted trials on several bio-decomposers, including the one prepared by the IARI, in 2020 and 2021 and had submitted a report to the state government, saying 'there is no considerable reduction in the time taken to decompose the stubble and the impact on the yield is non-significant'.
The official quoted above said the bio-decomposer is being used in 5 lakh acres of land in the NCR districts of Haryana and 4 lakh acres in Uttar Pradesh.
'The experience of Haryana and UP shows it should be implemented. As of now, we have no reason to discard it without making a sincere effort,' he said.
In Delhi, the solution is being used on 5,000 acres of basmati and non-basmati fields this year.
It was used on 4,300 acres of land belonging to 844 farmers in Delhi last year. In 2020, 310 farmers had used it on 1,935 acres of land.
According to officials, spraying of bio-decomposer costs just Rs 30 per acre.
In 2021, a third-party audit conducted to ascertain the impact of the microbial solution in Delhi showed that it was 95 per cent effective, following which Kejriwal had requested the centre to distribute it free in neighbouring states.
Centre Blames AAP
Union Environment Minister Yadav had on Wednesday (2 November) said there has been a 19 per cent rise in farm fires over 2021 in Punjab and that the AAP has turned the national capital into a gas chamber.
On the other hand, he said, the BJP-ruled Haryana has seen a 30 per cent drop in farm fires as compared to last year.
'In the last five years, the central government gave Rs 1,347 crore for crop residue management machines to Punjab. The state bought 1,20,000 machines. As many as 11,275 of those machines have gone missing. Money utilisation shows clear incompetence,' Yadav had said.
The Union Minister said the centre gave Punjab Rs 280 crore for crop residue management machines. Of the money given last year, Rs 212 crore were left unspent.
'So about Rs 492 crore was available but the state government chose to sit with the funds forcing helpless farmers to burn the crop residue,' he said.
AAP Blames Centre
Kejriwal told reporters here on Wednesday that the Punjab government had prepared a plan to give a cash incentive of Rs 2,500 per acre to farmers so that they are not forced to burn stubble.
'The centre rejected the proposal. They said they won't do anything for the farmers because of their protests against the three farm laws. The central government's hatred for farmers is the reason behind the smoke (from farm fires) all around,' he alleged.
The Delhi and Punjab governments jointly sent a proposal to the centre in July to help them give cash incentives to farmers in the agrarian state for not burning stubble.
According to the proposal, Delhi and Punjab would give Rs 500 each and the Centre would contribute Rs 1,500 per acre.
Farmers say a cash incentive can help them cover the cost of the fuel used in operating the machinery for the in-situ management of paddy straw.
According to Punjab government officials, the centre rejected the proposal, saying it has been providing subsidised machinery to farmers, such as happy seeders, rotavators and mulchers, for the in-situ management of paddy straw and that it does not have money to dole out cash incentives.
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