This is not the first time Punjab will give cash incentives to farmers for not burning stubble.

The Aam Aadmi Party governments in Punjab and Delhi plan to provide cash incentive to farmers in the border state for not burning stubble and have requested the Centre to share the cost, officials have said. Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana is a major reason behind the alarming spike in air pollution levels in the national capital in October and November. Farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the crop residue before cultivating wheat and potato.

Punjab generates around 20 million tons of paddy straw annually.

"We have prepared a proposal to provide a cash incentive to farmers who desist from burning paddy straw. The plan is that the Centre should bear 50 per cent of the cost and Punjab and Delhi will contribute 25 percent each," a senior Punjab government official said.

"Delhi will share the cost since smoke from farm fires impact air quality in the national capital," he said.

"The proposal has been sent to the Centre. Once it is approved, it will be tabled before the Punjab cabinet," the official said.

He said the Punjab and Delhi governments will implement the scheme even if the Centre doesn't agree.

Delhi government is yet to offer a comment on the proposal.

Farm machinery is provided to farmers for in-situ management of stubble at a subsidised rate under a centre-sponsored scheme. Farmers say a cash incentive can help them cover the cost of fuel used in operating the machinery, another official told PTI.

He said the government proposes to give Rs 2,500 per acre to farmers to wean them away from stubble burning.

This is not the first time Punjab will give cash incentives to farmers for not burning stubble.

The governments of Punjab and Haryana had announced a bonus of Rs 2,500 an acre for small and marginal farmers in 2019 too, following the Supreme Court's suggestion to incentivise farmers to stop farm fires.

However, a paucity of funds stalled the scheme. Only a few thousand farmers could avail the benefit.

The Punjab government had even requested the Centre for financial assistance but to no avail.

In an interview to PTI recently, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai had said the AAP government in Punjab is definitely going to bring a positive change, though it may take some time to bring the number of farm fires to zero.

Source: July 25, 2022, Economics Times