Over a year after the Punjab government announced to set up a $1 million Paddy Straw Management Challenge Fund, to invite possible solutions to the menace of paddy stubble burning, the government is yet to even advertise the initiative.
The Punjab Cabinet gave clearance to the challenge fund in July last year. Since then, a paddy harvesting season has passed and another one is round the corner. Paddy procurement starts on October 1 every year and the stubble burning starts as harvesting reaches full swing in October.
The issue of paddy stubble burning has been in focus over the past two years, since the smog as a result of stubble burning engulfed Delhi skies.
Soon after taking over, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced that he would attempt to find a solution for the menace and also announce the challenge fund, inviting international experts to offer an environment-friendly solution for the elimination of stubborn stubble.
The fund, however, remains on paper. The farmers commission, entrusted with the job of inserting advertisement has not be able to advertise it yet.
Only recently, the fund issue was taken up in the Cabinet after the commission sought simplification of the guidelines, “The advertisement being prepared by the department of agriculture is written in such bureaucratic language that the international audience will not be able to take it seriously.
Moreover, we sought clarity on who would be the final authority to take a decision on who would be selected for the challenge award,” said an official.
Earlier, the farmers commission and the department of agriculture were at loggerheads for translating the notification regarding the challenge fund from Punjabi to English.
“The slow speed at which the entire thing is moving is enough to frustrate anyone. We are entering into the second season of paddy of the incumbent government. We should have shown some results. But we are so slow that we have taken a year and yet not been able to insert the advertisement,” said an official.
He added that they were even thinking of getting clarity from the government as to who would pay $1 million, “We do not want to look like fools that the government does not have money and we engage some expert,” said the official.