Govt aims at two birds with one scheme

Grameen bio-mass programme, which will get initial funding of $100 million from the World Bank, will not only turn farm residues into clean kitchen fuel, but also check stubble burning that causes smo

Published: 02nd April 2017 09:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd April 2017 11:38 AM   |  A+A-

Farmers burn agricultural residues at a village

 NEW DELHI: The contribution of crop burning to pollution in India’s urban centres may soon lessen. The government is coming up with a plan that will turn the bio-mass into clean fuel for kitchens in rural areas.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the policy-makers to find ways to reduce India’s dependence on imported oil and gas, besides finding permanent solutions to the issue of farmers burning agricultural residues after the harvest season, NITI Aayog has readied the Grameen bio-mass cooking scheme, which will get initial funding of $100 million from the World Bank. 

“This is going to be an ambitious scheme since India will take definitive steps to reduce its carbon footprints in line with the commitment given in the Paris agreement. The agricultural residues, which could be paddy or sugarcane stubble, are renewable sources of energy.

The scheme will give clean cooking gas to women in the rural areas, who are exposed to harmful carbon emissions through burning of timber, stubble and cow dung. The scheme will fulfil Prime Minister’s promises to women in rural parts of the country of better and safe cooking solutions,” said a senior official of the NITI Aayog.

Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are among the prominent states facing the issue of rampant burning of agricultural residues by farmers.

V K Saraswat, member of the think-tank, is learnt to have reached out to a number of premier research institutions in the country for economical and viable technological solutions to turn the agricultural residues into clean bio-mass fuel.

“Details have been worked out and the residues would be treated in an environment-friendly manner which in the end will give blue flames in the gas stoves. The farmers will not be required to burn their farm fields after the harvest season,” added the official. 

While the NITI Aayog official said the initial World Bank funding has been tied up, efforts are underway to scale up the financial support to the programme by reaching out to more multi-lateral agencies.

“This will be first launched as a pilot project in about 100 districts, which may mostly be in the northern and eastern parts of the country where the phenomenon of burning agricultural residues is acute,” said the official.

A number of state governments have banned burning of agricultural residues. However, the ban remains on paper, as various studies held burning of agricultural residues responsible for almost 25 per cent of pollution. “Equipment necessary to clear the farm field for the next crops are expensive, besides expenses in engaging labour,” said the official.

Furthermore, the scheme will help the Modi government avoid accumulating the LPG subsidy burden with the expansion of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana under which women below the poverty line are provided with cooking gas connections.

“The Grameen bio-mass cooking scheme will be universal even while the operational details of its rollout are still being worked out,” added the official.

India Matters


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