Punjab Sets Ambitious Targets to Curb Stubble Burning and Air Pollution
Challenging Stubble Burning in Punjab: A Comprehensive Strategy
In a determined effort to combat air pollution caused by stubble burning, the state of Punjab is gearing up to make significant strides this winter season. Recent government data reveals that five districts – Sangrur, Bathinda, Firozpur, Muktasar, and Moga – were responsible for nearly 44% of total fire counts in Punjab last year. To address this pressing issue, Punjab’s Commission for Air Quality Management has set ambitious targets, aiming for a 50% reduction in farm fires and the complete elimination of stubble burning in six districts.
Paddy Cultivation and Its Consequences
According to the state’s action plan to curb paddy straw burning, approximately 31 lakh hectares of land in Punjab are devoted to paddy cultivation. This vast expanse is expected to generate around 16 million tonnes of paddy straw (non-basmati), which has traditionally contributed to the menace of stubble burning. However, the state is now adopting a multifaceted approach to manage this agricultural residue effectively.
Innovative Solutions for Stubble Management
The state is pursuing both in-situ and ex-situ methods to manage paddy straw. In-situ management involves mixing crop residue directly into the fields, while ex-situ methods utilize stubble as a source of fuel. Additionally, efforts are underway to repurpose paddy straw for industrial and energy generation projects. A sizable quantity of straw will also find its purpose as cattle fodder, reducing waste and benefitting local livestock.
Revolutionary Pusa Bio Decomposer
One groundbreaking solution on the horizon is the Pusa Bio Decomposer, a microbial innovation capable of breaking down paddy straw within a mere 15-20 days. Astonishingly, this solution will be provided to farmers free of cost, further incentivizing its adoption. This initiative aims to manage approximately 8,000 acres of paddy fields using the Pusa Bio Decomposer, thus significantly reducing the prevalence of stubble burning in the region.
Ambitious Targets for a Greener Punjab
In line with its commitment to air quality improvement, the Commission for Air Quality Management stated, “The State Action Plan envisages at least a 50% reduction in fire counts in Punjab during 2023 compared to last year. The plan attempts elimination of stubble burning cases this year in six districts, namely Hoshiarpur, Malerkotla, Pathankot, Rupnagar, SAS Nagar (Mohali), and SBS Nagar.”
Unifying Efforts to Tackle Air Pollution
Last year’s data underscores the need for these comprehensive measures, as the five districts of Sangrur, Bathinda, Firozpur, Muktasar, and Moga accounted for a significant 44% of the total fire counts in the state.
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