Is there a solution to Delhi's pollution problem? As toxic smog engulfs the capital, Monish Ahuja, the promoter of biomass fuel management company Punjab Renewable Energy Systems that has specialised in aggregation and storage of rice straw for the last six years, thinks so. The direct fallout of large scale stubble burning in farms of Punjab and Haryana, the smog can be controlled if the entire straw that gets burned can be used as feed stock for generating power, Ahuja says.
In a note tagged to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, government think tank Niti Aayog and others, Ahuja says that a 100 per cent rice straw based power plant operational in Ludhiana, Punjab, should be the template for replication by others as it utilises 12,000 MT of rice straw in a controlled environment to produce power. According to Ahuja, 2000 MW of power can be produced if 20 million MT of paddy straw estimated to be burned in open fields this season can be utilised completely. He called for government incentives to encourage farmer producer organisations, local bodies and other companies to create the market ecosystem to collect, store, transport and create value for the paddy straw.
The recommendations by Ahuja are:
Ahuja's suggestions were in response to news that the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister has held a high level meeting on November 3 through video conferencing with Punjab, Haryana and Delhi to tackle air pollution. The meeting decided that the Cabinet Secretary will monitor the situation with these states on a daily basis.
While monitoring is needed, the solution can only come through long term planning, and here lies the importance of exploring the feasibility of suggestions like those made by Ahuja.
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