From Punjab, News Of A 10,000 Crore Deal To End Stubble Burning

From Punjab, News Of A 10,000 Crore Deal To End Stubble Burning


CHANDIGARH:  A deal between the Punjab government and a Chennai-based firm to set up 400 plants to convert crop residue into bio-energy has raised hopes that stubble burning, which has contributed to a spike in particulate matter and choked Delhi, could end by next year.

The plants will become operational before the next harvesting season and prevent a repeat of the environmental hazard triggered by stubble burning, a Punjab government spokesperson said, according to news agency Press Trust of India.

It is estimated that the plants would cost around Rs. 10,000 crores. As part of the deal, the Punjab government shall allocate 7 acres for each unit on a 33-year lease and provide power at subsidised rates. The Chennai-headquartered waste management firm in turn, will build 400 cluster units over the next 10 months. Each plant would have the capacity to process 50,000 tonnes of paddy straw in a year, the spokesperson said.

The announcement came late on Wednesday, hours after Punjab's ruling Congress ran down a meeting between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Haryana's Manohar Lal Khattar as 'political drama'.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had declined a similar meeting with Mr Kejriwal, asserting that he does not have "the same luxury of time" as Mr Kejriwal.

Later on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Singh told news agency Press Trust of India that "farmers cannot be expected to give up crop residue burning completely" till they are provided viable solutions.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has insisted that the state government could not fund the incentives needed to encourage farmers and suggested that there could be no end to the problem without central funds. That is a suggestion Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan had shot down early in the day, telling states that they had to learn to prioritise their spending.

Leaders of the opposition Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab have, however, insisted that Punjab should have implemented the National Green Tribunal's 2015 orders to take steps to ensure that farmers do not need to burn the crop residue. 

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