Centre should direct States to use bio-decomposer: CM

Audit shows technique effective in stubble management, farmers happy with solution, says Kejriwal; BJP alleges corruption in the process

Published - September 14, 2021 12:37 am IST - New Delhi

A farmer sprinkles the bio-decomposer solution on the fields at Hiranki village.

A farmer sprinkles the bio-decomposer solution on the fields at Hiranki village.

Terming the bio-decomposer technique a “smashing success” at curbing stubble burning in the Capital, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday appealed to the Centre to ask the neighbouring States to use the same to prevent pollution.

The bio-decomposer technique utilised by the Delhi government last winter had turned out to be highly effective in dealing with agricultural stubble, he said. Mr. Kejriwal claimed the farmers were “very happy” and the neighbouring States should also implement the technique with winter around the corner and the city’s air quality expected to deteriorate during the months of October and November.

Even as the Chief Minister announced he would meet Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav to seek his intervention regarding the same, the Delhi BJP accused Mr. Kejriwal of utilising the technique only to garner publicity at the cost of the taxpayers’ money.

“From October 10 onwards, we will start witnessing rising pollution levels till the end of November. A big reason behind this is the smoke that is generated due to stubble burning in Delhi’s neighbouring States,” Mr. Kejriwal said during a digital briefing.

End blame game

“Till now, all the governments used to blame each other on this issue. State governments would accuse the Centre of not releasing funds, the Centre would claim that the States are doing nothing. But no one’s going to earn anything out of this blame game. We need to find solutions instead of being petty,” he said.

In October, Mr. Kejriwal explained, farmers harvest their paddy crop. When they cut the crop to harvest it, they leave a significant portion of the lower stem behind. This leftover part is called stubble or ‘Paraali’.

Post the harvest season, a farmer barely has 20-25 days to sow the next crop of wheat. During this time, the farmers need to get rid of the stubble to clear their fields. The most convenient method to do this is to burn the stubble, he added.

“Till now, all the governments did was to target the farmers. They’d penalise the farmers burning stubble. But what did the governments actually do? The entire problem is a mistake of the governments,” Mr. Kejriwal alleged.

The Delhi government, however, had found a solution to the problem in the Pusa Institute’s bio-decomposer which was both cost-effective and had proven highly effective, Mr. Kejriwal said.

According to him, the government had sprayed the solution on 1,935 acres of land in 39 villages. The results were also audited by an agency under the Centre.

“The Delhi government approached the Commission for Air Quality Management with the solution. The Delhi government got WAPCOS — a PSU of the Jal Shakti Ministry of the Centre — to do an audit of our solution. WAPCOS conducted a full-fledged investigation. They surveyed 79 farmers in 15 villages spread across four districts,” he said.

“After completing the process they have very clearly stated that farmers are extremely happy with the performance of the bio-decomposer. I reiterate, WAPCOS is a company of the Centre which has independently investigated the solution,” he added.

Less time taken

According to findings of the WAPCOS audit, Mr. Kejriwal said, 90% of the farmers said that the stubble decomposed within 15-20 days, whereas it would previoulsy take 40-50 days. The soil needed to be ploughed 6-7 times earlier, after using the spray the soil needs to be ploughed only once or twice.

The organic carbon, nitrogen, bacterial and fungal content in the soil increased after using the bio-decomposer and the stubble essentially ended up becoming a manure for the soil, he said.

“Just like how the farmers and the people of Delhi are happy with this solution, the same can happen in other States. All that the State governments have to do is to adopt the bio-decomposer method. All that the Centre needs to do is to mandate the States to use this solution,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

“I appeal to the Centre to intervene and ask the States to implement it. This is how all of us will get freedom from pollution. I will meet with the Union Environment Minister with this report and urge him to take up the solution,” he said.

Delhi BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana, citing an RTI response on the bio-decomposer technique, alleged corruption in the process which was undertaken last year.

“According to the RTI response, the cost of the decomposer solution was just ₹75,780 while ₹22,84,150 was spent on spraying it; only 310 farmers reaped the so-called benefits of the initiative on which crores were spent on publicity,” Mr. Khurana alleged.

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