As a result of the Centre’s decision, the incentive, which was initially set at ₹2,500 per acre, is likely to come down to ₹1,000 per acre.
The governments of Punjab and Delhi are working on finalising a monetary incentive for farmers if they do not burn their paddy residue after harvesting, a top official said on Friday, after the Union government turned down their request to chip in with funds.
As a result of the Centre’s decision, the incentive, which was initially set at ₹2,500 per acre, is likely to come down to ₹1,000 per acre. The scheme will be crucial for attempts to discourage farmers from burning crop residue after harvest, an easy way for them to clear fields but a method that sends up clouds of smoke that trigger the world’s worst air pollution crisis in much of North India.
“We had sought a support of ₹1,125 crore from the Union government in the total outlay of ₹1,875 crore while ₹375 crore each was to be contributed by Punjab and Delhi governments. Now, we have received a communication from the ministry of agriculture that our proposal has been rejected,” said Punjab chief secretary VK Janjua.
The chief secretary added that the states are still trying to work out the incentive, which could be now come down to ₹1,000 per acre. The Punjab government has kept an allocation of ₹200 crore in its budget this year to check stubble burning.
HT reported in July that the two state governments – both now controlled by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — had written to the Centre seeking for it to chip in with ₹1,500 per acre as incentive to help end farm fires.
The Union agriculture ministry did not immediately respond to requests for a comment on Friday.
Officials in the Delhi government too did not share details on how they planned to incentivise farmers to not burn the residue.
But officials, who asked not to be named, said they have already begun preparations to spray a bio-decomposer solution free of cost across Basmati and non-Basmati fields in Delhi. The solution, developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in Pusa, decomposes paddy straw naturally within 15-30 days, thereby removing the need for it to be burnt.
Delhi’s environment and development minister Gopal Rai had on Thursday chaired a review meeting to assess preparation for the same, with the agriculture department had asked to get farmers in Delhi to fill a form at the earliest to identify fields that need to be sprayed.