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Incentive For Not Burning Stubble Unviable: EPCA

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, in a report submitted to the top court, said that giving an incentive of ₹100 per quintal of paddy to farmers for not burning stubble may not be a “viable” option.

“After deliberations it was found that inclusion of cost of stubble removal in MSP may not be a viable option. It has been agreed that any such incentive, if at all necessary, should be provided by the State government from their own budget,” the report said.

The report said that efforts should be to give them machines for straw management. “While there is a demand for additional funds to be paid to farmers for doing stubble management, but as this could be a perverse incentive it may not be advisable. Therefore, the funds already provided and the plan that exists should be implemented this season and in the coming period. The effort must be to ensure that farmers have easy and affordable access to the machines which allow them to do smart straw management,” the report further said.

In 2019, Haryana had given incentives of ₹1.63 crore to farmers for not burning stubble. Similarly, Punjab had given incentives of ₹28.51 crore to farmers.

But for this year, Punjab has sought funds from the Centre for the same.

Letter to govts.

The EPCA also wrote to Punjab and Haryana governments to issue clear directions to farmers to rent and use machines to combat stubble burning.

“We understand that Punjab has directed on August 14 that as government has provided 80% subsidy for machines for crop residue management, it is to be ensured that these machines are available to small and marginal farmers on priority basis and they will be charged on operational cost and no rental for the machines. We have also been told that the operational charges include source of power and operator wages etc., but not the cost of capital,” the letter to Chief Secretary of Punjab read.

But the EPCA said that this leaves the issue “very ambiguous” and possibly open to “misuse”. “The rate for rental, which is being waived off is not apparent; the cost of operation is also not laid down. We would urge you to ensure that this is done so that small and marginal farmers have access at affordable/free cost. We would also request you to make sure that this is given wide publicity so that farmers have information and assurance of this,” the letter further read.

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