A stubble burning solution called the Pusa Decomposer will be tried in all states, and it will be used extensively from next year if the process proves to be beneficial, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Thursday at a meet to discuss the annual post-harvest practice that spikes air pollution across north India.
Pusa Decomposer converts crop stubble into compost. A liquid formulation made using decomposer capsules and other ingredients – jaggery and chickpea flour – is sprayed on fields with crop stubble for its speedy decomposition.
Cases of stubble burning have already been reported from Punjab. With winter approaching and the monsoon retreating, fog combines with pollution from stubble burning and other sources to smother population centres in smog. The smog is a massive health crisis that comes every year, with the thermal inversion of winters tending to worsen the situation.
Speaking about the use of Pusa Decomposer in other states, Javadekar said, “This year, trials will be conducted in all states. Once these trials are done on thousand hectares of land, we will have better and conclusive reports of its benefits.” Javadekar held the virtual meeting with environment ministers and officials of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
“As many as 50 teams of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) team will be constituted to monitor and coordinate with the states. In Delhi, we have paddy crops in 800 hectares of land while in UP, there are 10,000 hectares for the same. The focus is on complete synergy and coordination with states,” Javadekar added.
This low-cost technology has been developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in Pusa. Four capsules, which will cost just Rs 20, can be used to make 25 litre of solution effective for one hectare of land.
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai on Thursday said that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will launch a mega campaign against Delhi’s air pollution on October 5. He also said the Delhi government is setting up a centralised system to produce anti-stubble burning chemicals at Najafgarh’s Kharkhari Nahar village under Pusa scientists.
“By October 5, the setting up work will be done and from October 6, the work of producing these chemicals will start at 400 different camps under the Pusa scientists. By 3-4 days, the first round of chemicals will be ready. Based on the demands, we will spray the chemical through tractors at the farm fields, he said.
Rai further said, “The Delhi government will start the process of preparing a fermented liquid solution to be sprayed on 800 hectares of land in the city where stubble burning is practised by farmers. In most of the states, the farmers also need to pay some money for adopting some technology to stop stubble burning. Today, we have requested all the state governments and the Union government to adopt this particular technology.”
The Delhi experiment
CM Arvind Kejriwal said all the arrangements for spraying the solution on the fields will be made by the Delhi government and will be provided free to the farmers. He said the cost of the implementation of the entire project is less than Rs 20 lakh.
The Delhi CM said, “Four capsules can be mixed with a liquid solution of jaggery and gram flour and can be sprayed to cover one hectare of land. The mixture when sprayed softens the hard straw and turns it into manure. This is a cheap alternative. We have decided that this mixture will be prepared by the Delhi government itself under the guidance of the Pusa Research Institute. We have made all arrangements for the same, and this process will begin on October 5.”
Kejriwal said after around 15-20 days, the stubble will soften and will convert into manure.
Last year’s stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and western UP contributed to 44 per cent of the pollution in Delhi.