Central Government looking to use stubble as biofuel: Environment Minister

Stubble burning is often cited as a source of pollution in northern India

December 10, 2021 08:54 pm | Updated December 11, 2021 12:56 pm IST - New Delhi

A farmer burning stubble in a field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. File

A farmer burning stubble in a field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. File

The Union government was working on a plan to use stubble as a biofuel and manure as a part of an effort to deal with stubble burning that was often cited as a source of pollution in northern India, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav told the Lok Sabha on Friday.

The Minister, who is yet to make a detailed reply to a discussion on climate change, stated that the Centre had completely “decriminalised” stubble burning in the Air Quality Commission Act.

Mr. Yadav was responding to Shiromani Akali Dal member Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who alleged that farmers from Punjab and Haryana were being “defamed” by the Delhi government for causing air pollution and criminal cases filed against them.

Making a short intervention during a discussion on climate change in the Lower House, the Minister said the National Thermal Power Corporation had procured 3,000 tonnes of stubble to be used as bio-fuel and would study the results. A sum of Rs. 700 crore had been allocated get rid of stubble and about one lakh acres in Punjab and Haryana have used manure/compost from stubble, while Uttar Pradesh used six lakh acres.

Taking a dig at Aam Admi Party government, Mr. Yadav claimed that Delhi used only 4,000 acres but put out big advertisements on utilising stubble as manure.

The discussion, which was started on Wednesday and continued on Friday, also saw Opposition members questioning Prime Minister Narednra Modi’s announcement of a ‘Net Zero’ target of 2070 at the climate summit in Glasgow.

Trinamool member Saugata Roy said, “Even a week before the COP 26, the Government of India did not show any inclination to announce ‘Net Zero’ target. Actually, the Environment Secretary had ruled it out in the media. What prompted and under what pressure the Prime Minister did a volte-face in Glasgow and announced ‘Net Zero’ target in 2070?”

Charge against developed nations

N.K. Premachandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party accused the developed nations of diluting their climate commitments over the past three decades. Referring to the concept first accepted at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, he said, “The principle of equity has been diluted and lost over the last 30 years. ‘Common but differentiated responsibility’ has become an insignificant part of the Glasgow declaration”. Even the concept of developed and developing countries had been changed at the COP 26. He accused the rich countries of hiding behind poor countries in tackling the challenges posed by climate change.

National People’s Party MP from Meghalaya Agatha Sangma urged the Centre to reconsider the palm oil mission and go into a proper consultation before implementing it in the northeast and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. She said the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education had recommended that introducing palm oil should be avoided in areas that were rich in biodiversity and must be done after proper consultation.

Tapir Gao of the BJP noted that there was need to bring in environment awareness from the school level.

Ramesh Bidhuri, also of the BJP, lauded the Prime Minister's initiatives to popularise the use of energy-efficient LED bulbs as an alternative to traditional lighting solutions and offer LPG subsidies to reduce the dependence on firewood for cooking.

National Conference member Hasnain Masoodi stressed that there was need to shift towards sustainable development so that nature was protected.

Benny Behanan of the Congress observed that the attitude of both the States and the Centre was negative on climate change and now was the time to act to protect the environment.

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