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Farm machinery, other steps will keep air pollution in check this season: Agri Secy

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) The Rs 235 crore and Rs 141 crore for Punjab and Haryana respectively for crop residue management and the other measures taken by the Central government will solve the problem of air pollution to a large extent, according to Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal.

Including this year’s allocation, under the central sector ‘Promotion of agricultural mechanization for in-situ management of crop residue’ scheme, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare has allocated Rs 1050.68 crore for Punjab and Rs 640.9 crore for Haryana since 2018-19 for crop residue management machines on subsidy to the farmers and for undertaking information, education and communication (IEC) activities for mass awareness.

These machines ensure that the crop residue is weeded out entirely ahead of the next sowing instead of the farmers burning what is called parali in north-west India. Since 2016-17, a haze of pollution engulfs Delhi-NCR and the entire north-west India for weeks together especially ahead of and during winters. One of the many sources of pollution is the parali burning, i.e. the crop residue burning by the farmers in Punjab and Haryana.

Using the central funds, the states have established 30,900 custom hiring centres to provide machines and equipment to small and marginal farmers on hire. More than 1.58 lakh crop residue management machines have been supplied to these subsidized centres and farmers.

In the 2020 season, through this scheme, a reduction in the number of paddy residue burning cases in comparison to 2016 in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab were reported as 64 per cent, 52 per cent and 23 per cent respectively, Agarwal said.

“This year too, with the scheme allocation for Punjab and Haryana along with several other measures taken by the Central government, the problem of parali burning should not be as severe as earlier,” Agarwal told media persons during an interaction.

The states have been asked to carry out micro-level planning at the village and block level by identifying the problems and gaps and accordingly plan the strategies to reduce crop residue burning.

Parliament had last month approved the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act that is mandated to take the airshed approach and plan holistically to tackle the air pollution problem that plagues the entire north-west India in winters. Airshed (on the lines of watershed) is the geographical area within which the wind movement has a bearing on its meteorology and therefore on movement of pollutants that lead to air pollution.

The Centre has also provided financial assistance to the state governments, Krishi Vikas Kendras (KVKs) and ICAR institutions for ICE activities, including programmes on mass media such as television and demonstrations.

–IANS

niv/bg

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