Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday met Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to pursue the state’s request for compensation to farmers for paddy straw management.Expressing serious concern over the environmentally dangerous practice of stubble burning, the Chief Minister reiterated his demand for payment of compensation at the rate of Rs.100 per quintal for paddy straw management to curb burning of the paddy residue by the farmers.A spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office later said the union minister, Radha Mohan Singh extended his ministry’s full support to Punjab in this regard, and on other agricultural issues, including water conservation. The agriculture minister told Captain Amarinder that he would take up Punjab’s case for stubble management compensation with the union finance ministry.Captain Amarinder told the minister, Radha Mohan Singh, that the problem of stubble burning merited serious attention by the central government. Pointing out that he had raised the issue even earlier, the Chief Minister urged the union minister to direct the concerned Ministry in Government of India to provide for a bonus of Rs.100/- per quintal on procurement of paddy to provide an incentive to dissuade the farmers from burning the paddy straw. The bonus, of course, will be paid only to those farmers who manage the paddy residue/ stubble without burning, he said.
Referring to the National Green Tribunal’s directive to the Government of Punjab to ensure that no paddy straw is burnt by farmers, the Chief Minister said while the State had taken a number of measures, the central government needed to step in to curb the menace. Besides subsidizing sale of agriculture machinery for crop residue management, the state government was creating of awareness amongst the farmers on the issue, Captain Amarinder said, listing some of the initiatives being taken by his government.He further apprised the union minister that monitoring of straw burning was being done through Remote Sensing Satellites and field functionaries, but asserted that it was neither proper nor fair to penalize the farmers. Even use of agriculture machinery supplied on subsidy puts an additional financial burden of Rs.3000/- per acre on the farmers for the paddy straw management, Captain Amarinder pointed out, seeking urgent intervention of the union minister on the issue.According to the spokesperson, the Chief Minister also briefed the union minister on the status of the upcoming National Institute of Horticulture in Amritsar. Captain Amarinder invited the Agriculture minister to lay the foundation stone of the institute, which is expected to be done during this calendar year. Classes at the institute are proposed to be started in a makeshift campus from the next academic session.