Devising a way out of the burning issue of paddy straw causing widespread pollution not only in Punjab but also in the country’s entire northern belt – Chandigarh, Haryana and Delhi – the state government has started producing electricity from the crop residue.

With this, Punjab has become the first state in the country to consume over half million tonne of paddy straw to generate almost 70 MW power, Principal Secretary, Science, Technology and Environment (STE), Dr G Vajralingam, told The Tribune, here on Monday. This has been done through eight biomass-based projects installed in the state.

Under the future plan, the state targets to produce over 500 MW power by December 2017. For this, 13 more biomass-based power projects of 147-MW capacity are under execution and are likely to be commissioned by December next. However, one of these plants has been commissioned at Manuke Gill village in Moga district. It has started generating 6 MW electricity by consuming 0.04 million MT paddy straw every year.

In the second year, 30 more such projects of 300-mw capacity are planned to be installed by December, 2017. These will consume 4.5-million MT crop residue every year.

“This all is part of three-year proposal to consume almost half of the total 17 million tonnes of paddy straw every year at the cost of Rs 358.91 crore,” said Dr Vajralingam.

He said the Punjab Government plans to manage the entire of the paddy straw produced in the state in the coming years.

Under the plan, 5 lakh hectares would be covered in the first year at the cost of Rs 103.31 crore, 10 lakh hectares in the second year at the cost of Rs 121.67 crore and another 15 lakh hectares in third year at the cost of Rs 133.91 crore.

As many as 2 lakh hectares would be covered for collection of straw, 1 lakh hectare under retention of straw and 2 lakh hectares under incorporation of straw in the first year. The area under various options would be doubled in the second year and tripled in the third year.

Dr Vajralingam said farmers would be incentivised for adoption of incorporation technology by providing an incentive at the rate of 50 per cent of the cost of chopping and mixing subject to maximum of Rs 1,500 per hectare during the first year, Rs 1,200 per hectare during the second year and Rs 1,000 per hectare during third year.

The government also plans to simultaneously take up research activities for the improvement of technology for straw management through improvement in machinery and equipment as well as processes for utilisation of straw.

Source: November 17, 2015, The Tribune