Even while Punjab attempted to wash its hands of the air pollution that is plaguing Delhi, the state has not been able to set its own house in order either.
Apart from sitting over the subsidy applications for agriculture machines, which can help curb the practice of burning paddy stubble, the state has not been able to add even a single biomass power plant in the last three years.
The process of setting up biomass power plants started in 2005 and the last one came up in Mansa in 2013. These power plants produce about 63 MW of power per day due to which they cannot consume more than 1 million tonnes of paddy stubble. The state produces more than 15 million tonnes of paddy stubble.
M P Singh, joint director, Punjab Energy development Authority, said: “A few projects are in the pipeline and they will generate up to 190 MW of
power per day. However, that will take another two years to come into operation and not before that.”
The plants of today are not running at full capacity either. With an installed capacity of 63 MW, the plants are producing just around 50MW per day. All biomass plants are being run by private entities with PEDA acting as facilitator. Apart from paddy stubble even cotton stalks are being used as fuel.
“In the absence of any biomass plant, farmers don’t have much choice left and not all are progressive enough to avoid stubble burning,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary, Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan).
Over 100 applications of balers are lying pending in agriculture department’s office because subsidy amount for these machines is yet to be received.
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