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Stubble burning: Rain plays spoilsport in Delhi govt’s biodecomposer plans

The decomposer solution, meant to help with decomposition of crop residue after the kharif harvest, was to be sprayed on around 4,000 acres out of 14,000 acres of paddy field in Delhi.

Written by Abhinaya Harigovind | New Delhi |
Updated: October 27, 2021 9:48:01 am
The rainfall last week meant that October this year is the wettest since 1956.

Rain has delayed spraying of the Pusa decomposer in Delhi, and left fields wet and waterlogged in some places, even as the capital recorded two instances of stubble burning this month.

The decomposer solution, meant to help with decomposition of crop residue after the kharif harvest, was to be sprayed on around 4,000 acres out of 14,000 acres of paddy field in Delhi. Around 30% to 35% of this figure has been covered, according to A P Saini, Joint Director, Agriculture. Rainfall, particularly the wet spell on October 18, left some fields waterlogged and others too moist to run a tractor over, even as wheat sowing season is near, officials in the north and northwest districts said.

The rainfall last week meant that October this year is the wettest since 1956. With the weather likely to remain dry over the next few days, spraying can resume soon, said an extension officer (agriculture) in the northwest district. The fields in low lying areas of Madanpur and Ranikhera are waterlogged, and the harvest is also not complete since a combine harvester cannot be used in soil that is extremely moist, he added. The decomposer can take around 15 to 20 days to act on the residue.

The Delhi government was targeting fields harvested with a combine harvester for spraying of the decomposer, since the machine leaves substantial residue behind. When the decomposer spraying began two weeks ago, Environment Minister Gopal Rai had said that farmers could continue to apply for spraying. Only 17 fresh applications have been received since then, Saini said.

Two instances of stubble burning have been recorded in Delhi so far, one on October 2 and one on Monday, Saini said. The fine for burning depends on the cropped area, and is levied by the sub-divisional magistrate. Earlier this month, teams of extension officers were formed in four districts to monitor stubble burning and spraying of the decomposer. Last year, there was one instance of burning in the northwest district, the extension officer said.

Winds and rainfall have destroyed standing crops, paddy and vegetables in some fields, said another extension officer (agriculture) in the north district. “If the paddy stalks have fallen on the ground, it can no longer be cut with a harvester. It will have to be harvested manually, and finding workers now can be difficult around Diwali,” he said. Spraying of the decomposer resumed on Tuesday, he added.

Farmers are meanwhile ruing their losses. Jasram, a farmer at Palla, also said that the decomposer spraying was delayed this year. He also harvested a section of the crop in September, he said. The remaining crop, around 6.5 acres, is yet to be harvested, and there is a shortage of labour, he said. He has applied to get the decomposer sprayed on the field after harvest.

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