Stubble burning: Rain spoils the game in Delhi government’s biodecomposer scheme

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22

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

The decomposer solution was to be sprayed on about 4,000 acres out of 14,000 acres of paddy field in Delhi to help with the decomposition of crop residues after the kharif harvest. According to AP Saini, joint director of agriculture, about 30% to 35% of this figure is covered. Officials in the north and north-west districts said the rains, especially on October 18, inundated some fields and made others too wet to operate tractors, even sowing wheat. The weather is also near.

Last week’s rain means that this year has the highest rainfall since October 1956. While the weather is likely to remain dry in the next few days, spraying may resume soon, said an extension officer (agriculture) in the North West district. He said that the fields in the low-lying areas of Madanpur and Ranikheda have been flooded and the crop has not even been completed as combine harvesters cannot be used in highly moist soils. It may take about 15 to 20 days for the decomposer to act on the residue.

The Delhi government was targeting the fields harvested by combine harvesters for spraying the decomposer, as the machine leaves a lot of residue. When the spraying of decomposer started two weeks ago, Environment Minister Gopal Rai had said that farmers can continue to apply for spraying. Saini said that since then only 17 new applications have been received.

Saini said that two cases of stubble burning have been registered in Delhi so far, one on October 2 and one on Monday. The penalty for burning depends on the crop area, and is imposed by the sub-divisional magistrate. Earlier this month, teams of extension officers were formed in four districts to monitor stubble burning and spraying of decomposers. The extension officer said that last year there was an incident of burning in the North West district.

Another extension officer (agriculture) of the northern district said that the wind and rain have destroyed standing crops, paddy and vegetables in some fields. “If the paddy stalks have fallen on the ground, it cannot be harvested anymore with the harvester. It will have to be cut manually, and it may be difficult to find workers around Diwali now,” he said. He said that the spraying of decomposer resumed on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the farmers are suffering their loss. Jasram, a farmer from Palla also said that there has been a delay in spraying decomposer this year. He said that in September he had also harvested a portion of the crop. The remaining crop, about 6.5 acres, is yet to be harvested, and there is a labor shortage, he said. He has applied for spraying of decomposer in the field after harvesting.

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