IEP Chandigarh, September 19
Four top cabinet ministers of the Bhagwant Mann government on Monday got together with experts to formulate a joint strategy to deal with stubble burning and safeguard the environment.
The four ministers, agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, Higher Education and Environment Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, New and Renewable Energy Minister Aman Arora and School Education Minister Harjot Bains chalked out a comprehensive plan which shall begin from September 27 with a Mega Awareness Campaign to make farmers aware of the ill effects of paddy stubble burning and its management.
Under the first phase of this campaign, the youth of universities and colleges will be enrolled and they will be trained by experts about the harmful effects of stubble burning and absorption of stubble into the soil. After Punjabi University, special training programs will be conducted at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana on September 28 and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar on September 29. Later, these youths will visit the villages across the state to make people aware against this deleterious activity.
Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal further said that a 15 days deadline has been extended for farmers to apply for subsidy on the Happy Seeder so that maximum number of farmers can plant wheat without burning the stubble by taking Happy Seeder under this scheme. Happy Seeder machines have been provided to the agriculture block development officers for the use of marginal farmers at free of cost. ‘In order to absorb the stubble in the soil without burning, the Agriculture Department will also spray 5000 acres of D-decomposer solution as a pilot project as an experiment’ said Dhaliwal.
Higher Education and Environment Minister Meet Hayer during the press conference said that such eco-friendly industries will be encouraged by the Punjab government which uses paddy straw as fuel. He said that the Farmers also get assistance of Rs 3000 per acre through the scheme. Along with this, the government is working on a module to make it mandatory for the brick kilns to use some percentage of paddy straw as fuel and this will also be implemented in other industries also.
Additional Chief Secretary to Chief Minister A. Venu Prasad and Additional Chief Secretary Agriculture Sarvjit Singh discussed various crucial issues meticulously pertaining to this matter with the concerned officials of the state government.
After this meeting, Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal and Higher Education Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer said that the concrete steps have been taken by the Punjab government to prevent the menace of stubble burning. Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal said that a massive awareness campaign is going to be launched from Punjabi University Patiala to sensitse the farmers not to burn stubble.
Earlier, during the meeting, all the ministers including New and Renewable Energy Minister Aman Arora and School Education Minister Harjot Bains stressed that joint efforts are needed to provide a clean environment to the over 3.5 crore people of Punjab and the future generations. The Ministerial Group emphasized the need to find urgent initiatives to conserve stubble besides encouraging the use of stubble as fuel and preparation of stubble as compost without burning.
In the meeting, Dr. Sukhpal Singh Chairman of the Farmer Commission, Prof. Adarsh Paul Punjab Pollution Control Board Chairman Vig and Karunesh Garg Member Secretary Engineer, Dr. SS Gosal Vice Chancellor Punjab Agriculture University Ludhiana, Dr. Arvind Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University Patiala and Jaspal Singh Sandhu Vice Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar, Arpit Shukla ADGP and Gurvinder Singh Director Agriculture suggested vital ideas for handling paddy straw without burning and using it as fuel.