In News: Centre to help set up paddy straw pellet units to arrest stubble burning.
- The Union Environment Ministry announced a ₹50 crore scheme to incentivise industrialists and entrepreneurs to set up paddy straw pelletisation and torrefaction plants.
- Paddy stubble burning is practised mainly in the Indo-Gangetic plains of Punjab, Haryana, and UP.
- The farmers clear their fields for sowing the winter crop, burns straw stubble after harvesting paddy.
- Every year, about 27 million tonne of paddy straw is generated in Punjab and Haryana.
- The problem is that about 75% or 20 million tonne is from non-basmati rice, which cannot be fed to cattle as fodder because of its high silica content.
- About 11 million tonne can be managed in the field and the rest is usually burnt which adds to the air pollution crisis in Delhi.
- The government has attempted to dissuade farmers from burning straw through penalising them as well as incentivising them.
The present scheme:
- The Central Pollution Control Boards (CPCB) released guidelines for an incentive scheme for promoting establishment of paddy straw based pelletisation and torrefaction plants.
- Paddy straw made into pellets or torrefied can be mixed along with coal in thermal power plants. This saves coal as well as reduces carbon emissions that would otherwise have been emitted were the straw burnt in the fields.
- New units set up would be eligible for government funding in the form of capital to set up such plants.
- Under the scheme, the Centre will fund such plants to a maximum of ₹70 lakh subject to capacity.
- Torrefaction is costlier but can deliver a product whose energy content is much higher and theoretically substitute for more coal in a power plant.
- This would be a “one-time only” scheme and regular pellet plants would be eligible for ₹40 crore of the overall pie.
Note: Torrefaction is the thermochemical conversion method to produce coal fuel (bio char) from biomass.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
- It is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Mo.E.F.C).
- It was established in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974.
- It is also entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
- It provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- It Co-ordinates the activities of the State Pollution Control Boards by providing technical assistance and guidance and also resolves disputes among them.
- It is the apex organisation in country in the field of pollution control.
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Source: The Hindu