Free Press Journal

Centre draws up plans to buy stubble to save Delhi from smog


New Delhi : The Centre is drawing up a plan to buy the crop stubble from farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to prevent them from burning it and aid in alleviating the smog problem in the capital.

Currnently, farmers have no choice except to burn to clear their farms of the leftover straw that is generated in large quantity in paddy and cotton production, so as to prepare the field for the next round of farming.

The power and road transport ministries are ready with the blueprints to let farmers earn money from the straw. While one plan may kick off before the next crop harvest, another plan proposed by Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari to produce ethanol from the farmers’ waste may take some time.

Minister of State for Power (independent charge) Raj Kumar Singh has directed the state-run National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to buy the hay pallets and crop stubble and mix 10% with coal in its thermal power stations as a fuel for generating electricity.

Gadkari is working separately to create a market for the farmers to sell their stubbles to convert it into ethanol, which is a cheap alternative of petrol so far produced from sugar molasses.

Sources in the power ministry said the NTPC would soon issue tenders for buying the crop stubble at Rs 5,500 per tonne. They said on an average, two tonnes of husk is generated in farming on one acre and the farmers will have additional income of Rs 11,000 per acre.

Sharma is also sending a proposal to the Union Cabinet to make use of the crop stubble mandatory in all thermal power stations.

Gadkari, who has a personal background as an industrialist in producing ethanol from sugar molasses, is tying with the idea of the government setting up thousands of small-scale units to buy the stubble from the farmers and turn it into ethanol.

“One tonne of paddy waste is equal to 180 litres of ethanol. I will stop the practice of importing fuel and instead make India generate its own indigenous fuel. I have been already working on it for 10 years now,” he said, pointing out that his ministry is already in talks with the petroleum ministry to help run the public transport on the pollution-free fuel.

l The Union government is looking into two schemes to buy crop stubbles from the farmers.

l In one, the power ministry will procure stubbles at the rate of Rs. 5,500 per tonne and will be added to the thermal power stations of NTPC which generate electricity.

l In the other, transport minister Nitin Gadkari is working on a scheme to turn the stubbles into an alternative fuel — ethanol.