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Government Actions this week

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4-fold rise in green solution to burning of paddy stubble

Happy seeder usage quadruples in Punjab.
Given the small base, it will take many years of exponential growth before happy seeders are able to appreciably reduce farm burning. A combination of government pull and court push was able to motivate some farmers, but there is a long way to go.



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NTPC Floats tender to buy machinery to convert farm waste into power

NTPC places orders for straw pelletization units.
Straw is bulky and transporting it is costly, it is also easier to make pellets out of it, reduce its bulk and mix it with coal. NTPC is going proactively into this mode. What is not clear however is (a) How is NTPC going to manage pellet making units spread across Punjab? (b) Straw pellets when burnt also create lots of particulate matter, how will NTPCs units address the emission from its own plants? © Given NTPCs history of weak pollution control abilities and weak management of small units, how would it now achieve these new objectives?



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Paddy straw pellet project launched at Rajpura thermal plant

A pellet making plant goes operational near a power station.
Continuing from the previous problem. The cost of transporting straw is quite significant, a pellet making plants situated at the coal power unit, will not be as effective as a pellet making plant close to the farm. In this case, however, the plant is close to the straw production area, but the size of the power plant is negligible compared to the size of the problem.



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Centre’s big milk production plan may help clean Delhi’s air too

Will the Holstein and Jersey Cows like paddy straw fodder.
With a massive plan for fodder production for cattle feed on the anvil, a great opportunity has presented itself. Except, cattle quite dislike paddy straw with its high silica and wax content and extra hardness while not being very nutritious. Both Indian breeds and imported ones have no preference for this stuff. It is said that Indian breeds don’t mind basmati straw, however, Punjabi farmers grow much more of the hybrid variety. 



Initiatives


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Can gasification be the solution to crop burning?

Another farm burning solution that will not scale.
When technologists get into the act of providing solutions to problems, there is much hope, for pollution is a result of inappropriate technology, and changing it can solve the problem far more easily than merely economic policy. Biomass gasification is the suggested solution in this article. I must confess I have my doubts about this solution. Why, because paddy straw has high silica and wax and is much harder than other biomass-based inputs.



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Punjab doesn’t need paddy straw management but paddy replacement

Stop Paddy in Punjab and Haryana.
Paddy cultivation requires a lot of water, which cheap/free electricity makes possible through extraction of subsurface water. But there are limits. The combination of overuse of fertilizers and pesticides and over-extraction of water is destroying Punjab’s land. The burning of paddy straw is also poisoning its air. It is high time that a comprehensive agricultural plan is devised where Punjab once again takes the lead in high-value agriculture leaving rice for deltas and coastal areas across India. This is the superior win-win solution.


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