SC asks states about arrangements made to prevent stubble burning

The Supreme Court has asked governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan about the arrangements made by them for preventing stubble burning which is a source of pollution in the region.

The apex court has also asked the States concerned to apprise it about the instances of stubble burning in previous year, its locations and also how many farmers were responsible so that “special arrangements” could be made in advance for those areas.

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“With respect to stubble burning, we would like to hear, by virtual hearing, chief secretaries of Govt of NCT of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan on the next date, as to what arrangement they have made for preventing stubble burning as the time is fast approaching when it is burnt,” a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said.

“Let it be disclosed, how many instances were there in the previous year and how many farmers were responsible and the locations identified with respect to stubble burning, be also indicated in the affidavit, as this year special arrangement is to be made in that area in advance by making proper planning,” the bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, said.

The apex court passed the order while hearing the pollution matter in which it is dealing with several aspects, including that of stubble burning.

The top court said it appears that some new technology has been developed by AFC India Limited for dissolving the stubble in field itself and the states concerned should file their response on this aspect as well as steps which they propose to take to prevent its burning.

“It appears that some new technology has been developed by the AFC India Limited (formerly known as Agricultural Finance Corporation Limited) for dissolving the stubble in the field itself by method of activation of mixed culture inoculation in farm, in the process of fertility of the field is also stated to be improved,” the bench noted in its order.

“Let response be also filed of current state with respect to all arrangement done and the aforesaid technology by the states/Union Territories concerned,” it said and posted the matter for hearing on August 10.

In November last year, the apex court had expressed serious displeasure over the failure of state machinery in preventing stubble burning and said that citizens of Delhi-national capital region (NCR) were “suffocating” due to air pollution and people cannot be left to die in a “gas chamber”.

India tests Swedish technology to reduce stubble burning:

Pollution from stubble burning in winter is the key contributor to the sharp decline in air quality in Delhi. But stubble burning continues unabated. To find a solution to this issue, India is testing a Swedish technology — torrefaction that can convert rice stubble into ‘bio-coal’.

The Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to Government of India has funded a pilot project in Punjab to evaluate the feasibility of the technology. Bioendev, a Swedish company, has set up a pilot plant at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute in Mohali.

Stubble to bio-coal:

According to Amar Singh, Director (India) of Bioendev, if scaled up, about 65% of the biomass could be converted to energy. The technology involves heating up straw, grass, saw mill residue and wood biomass to 250 degrees Celsius – 350 degrees Celsius. This changes the elements of the biomass into ‘coal-like’ pellets. These pellets can be used for combustion along with coal for industrial applications like steel and cement production

“We have a very small plant at Mohali but we are hoping to make a plant that can treat 30,000 tons [of residue] per annum,” said Mr. Singh. So far the technology has only been substantially tested in Scandivia as a 16,000 ton/year plant.


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