If Narendra Modi-led government has its way, the severe air pollution caused by farm stubble burning in the National Capital Region (NCR) may have a permanent solution in near future. It occurs during every harvest season.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Modi on March 7h cleared the sanctioning of Rs 1151.8 crore for the 2018-20 period to subsidize machinery procurement for in-situ management of crop residue in the States of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and NCR.
Such machines usually cost over Rs 1 lakh and help chop harvested crop stalks and stubbles into small pieces and spread into the soil itself.
Fully funded by the central government, the scheme talks about establishing farm machinery banks for custom hiring of in-situ crop residue management machinery. Financial assistance of up to 80 percent of the project cost will be provided to the cooperative societies of the farmers, farmer producer organisations, self help groups, registered farmers societies/ farmers group, private entrepreneurs, group of women farmers through the scheme.
Financial assistance of 50 percent of the machinery/equipment cost will be provided to individual farmers too.
The government also intends to fund awareness programmes carried out by the state government/Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Indian Council of Agricultural Research Institutes, Central Government Institutes, PSUs, etc. This includes mass awareness campaigns through short and long films, documents, radio and TV programmes, demonstration camps at various levels, capacity building programme, advertisements in print media, star campaigning, award for village/ gram panchayat for achieving Zero Straw Burning, panel discussions on Doordarshan, DD Kisan and other private channels, etc.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the state nodal department can tie up with the banks for credit requirements of the beneficiaries. While the name and details of selected beneficiaries will be documented at district level indicating Aadhaar/UID numbers, the financial assistance will be paid through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and Farmers Welfare will empanel the manufacturer of schemes and equipments, identified for in-site management of crop residue along with their costs.
A National Steering Committee headed by the Agriculture Secretary will formulate the policy and give overall directions and guidance to the implementation of the scheme by the state government and will monitor and review its progress and performance.
At the state level the nodal implementing agency will be the Department of Agriculture of the concerned state government. State Level Executive Committee (SLEC) chaired by Principle Secretary (Agriculture)/ Agriculture Production Commissioner shall oversee the implementation of the scheme in their state through regular meetings and will provide inputs to the Executive Committee for appropriate policy formulation. The SLEC shall ensure that no crop residue burning takes place in the farmer fields.
The District Level Executive Committee (DLEC) shall be responsible for carrying forward the objectives of the scheme for project formulation, implementation and monitoring in the districts and will constitute Surveillance Committees involving farmers group / progressive farmers to mobilize farmers for not burning the crop residue and will also ensure active participation of Panchayati Raj Institution.
Respective state governments through DLEC will indentify various beneficiaries and location - specific agricultural equipments depending on the farming system and will identify and select beneficiaries for establishment of Farm Machinery Bank for Custom Hiring and procurement of machines on individual ownership basis to avail the benefit in transparent and time bound manner, the ministry says.
The total central funds outgo would be Rs. 1151.80 crore - Rs. 591.65 crore in 2018/19 and Rs. 560.15 crore in 2019/20.