While steep rise in stubble-burning has thrown a blanket of smog around the state, the district administration has embarked on a plan to curb the menace and turn paddy stubble into manure by roping in daily wagers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA). Talking to The Tribune, Deputy Commissioner Diparva Lakra said the administration had succeeded in removing paddy stubble on 22,000 hectares of land with its environment-friendly approach. The ADC (D), Shena Aggarwal, said they were motivating the farmers to remove paddy stubble and bury it in a pit either in their own agricultural land or wasteland identified in each village. According to her, they are roping in daily wagers under the MGNREGA to dig up compost pits in wasteland available in the villages. Besides, they are also making job cards under the MGNREGA for small farmers who are themselves getting compost pits dug up on their land. She said a section of farmers was apprehensive about digging up compost pits on their land and opting for wasteland in villages. The ADC (D) said they came out with the idea as whenever they approached the farmers to sensitise them on the issue of paddy stubble they would often complain that the methods available were not cost effective and they could not afford it. Bathinda SDM Sakshi Sawhney said they had constituted teams comprising patwaris, panchayat secretaries and other officials. These teams visited five to 10 villages daily and tried to convince farmers to go for stubble management that was conducive to environment conservation. On the other hand, BKU Ekta (Ugrahan) state secretary Shangara Singh Bhullar said the drive initiated by the district administration required massive mobilisation of resources while terming it “too little, too late”. It should have been initiated much in advance while also spreading awareness among the farmers. He said the only way to deal with paddy stubble was diversification of crops. “The government should ensure remunerative prices for crops other than paddy,” he added.

Source: November 3, 2017, The Tribune