As part of the Centre's cleanliness mission, the agriculture ministry has decided to provide Rs 10 lakh each to 585 'mandis' (wholesale agriculture markets) across the country for setting up waste management plants to treat both biodegradable non-biodegradable wastes.

Besides, the ministry has also decided to earmark 1% fund of its flagship Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY) for the cleanliness drive. About Rs 5,000 crore was allocated for RKVY in the budget for the current financial year (2016-17).

"We have prepared 'Swachhta' (cleanliness) Action Plan and decided to provide Rs 10 lakh each to 585 mandis for setting up waste management plants," Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Wednesday.

This will be done under the electronic-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) scheme. The e-NAM is an electronic trading platform where all 585 'mandis' will be connected in a way to act as a common market for buyers and sellers of farm produce.

The government has, so far, integrated 250 mandi in 10 states with the e-NAM in the first phase. All 585 'mandis' will be linked by March, 2018.

Singh announced the decisions while sharing details of the 'Swachhta Pakhwada' (cleanliness fortnight) observed in the country during October 16-31.

The details of extending assistance to the 'mandis' will be worked out soon after consulting with experts and stakeholders. The focus of the farm waste disposal mechanism would be centred around "creating wealth from agricultural waste".

Various technologies making best use of agricultural wastes -- like preparation of bio-compost, vermin-composting, whey utilization, straw enrichment, waste water recycling, cotton waste management, fisheries waste management and engineering technologies -- will be considered while finalising the plan of the waste disposal plants at all the 'mandis' across the country.

The cleanliness drive of the ministry will also bring river cleaning programme within its ambit, in association with the water resources ministry.

It has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the water resources ministry to collaborate during the latter's ongoing Ganga river rejuvenation plan.

Under the MoU, people living in 1657 'Gram Panchayats' along the bank of the river from Uttarakhand to West Bengal will be motivated to carry out organic farming to reduce use of polluting chemical fertilizers and pesticides to ensure that the Ganga is restored to pristine purity.


Source: November 2, 2016, The Times of India