90K Paddy Straw Choppers Distributed In 4 Years, Yet Punjab Saw 71,000 Farm Fires In 2021

As harvest season is set to begin in Punjab, the issue of paddy stubble burning remains unresolved.

stubble burning
Charred remains of farmland after stubble burning at Reethkheri village, in Patiala on November 15, 2021. (ANI Photo)

Chandigarh: With the Kharif season harvest about to begin a few days from now, the preparations for the paddy stubble burning in the states of Punjab and Haryana are far from perfect. About 32,100 fresh in-situ (at the place of origin) subsidised paddy chopping machines will be supplied to the farmers to chop the paddy straw.

However, the biggest concern is how to keep these machines secure. Notably, in the last four years, 90,000 in-situ paddy stubble chopper machines were distributed to the farmers. Out of these, 4,000 of them went missing. Now the Vigilance Bureau is investigating the matter which has caused a loss of about Rs 140 crore.

Not just this, despite the fact that these machines were distributed, stubble burning incidents or farm fires rose drastically across the state.

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If in the year 2017, the number of farm fires in Punjab was reported at about 45,300, in the following year this number rose to 50,500. In the year 2019, the number of farm fires reported was 55,000, and in 2020, the data of farm fires recorded was 76,500. In 2021, the number of farm fires marginally went down to 71,000, yet it was a cause for concern.

Centre Rejects Punjab’s Proposal

Even as the harvest is about to begin, the Centre has rejected the Punjab government’s proposal of giving Rs 2,500 per acre incentive to the farmers for not burning the paddy straw. For this reason, Punjab had sought the Centre’s support of Rs 1,125 crore while Punjab and Delhi would have contributed Rs 375 crore each.

The state is now left with no choice but to ask farmers to make fresh purchases of paddy stubble choppers. There are 11 types of subsidised machines given to the farmers, some of these machines include the super straw management system, super seeders, paddy straw choppers, happy seeders, reversible ploughs, zero drill till and shrub masters, etc.

Paddy Stubble Choppers To Have GPS

Director Agriculture Punjab, Gurwinder Singh said that this time around some checks have been put in place. “While earlier, the subsidy was either given to the manufacturer or the farmer. This time around, the subsidy will be passed on to the farmers concerned. Also, a system of coding of all the machines will be put in place so that the machines do not go missing, and GPS will be installed on all the paddy choppers to trace them in case a loss is reported.”

He added that in the past four years, 90,000 paddy stubble chopping machines were distributed to the farmers at a subsidy of 50 per cent of the total cost. In the case of cooperatives, the subsidy was as much as 80 per cent of the total cost of the machines. The costs of the machines vary between Rs two lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

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