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Wealth from stubble |

 

Written by Deepak Gupta
, Kaushik Krishnan
|Up to date: October 26, 2020 9:32:33 pm

stubble burning, air pollution, chandigarhPaddy stubble poses main challenges in North India — the amount of the farm waste is humongous and the window for disposing of it’s too small. With the supply of wheat straw for cattle fodder, farmers haven’t any incentive to gather the stubble.

Come September, with monotonous regularity, the discourse on stubble burning begins, reaches a crescendo in October, then Diwali crackers tweak the narrative and at last, the north-west winds blow away the air pollution — and the problem as nicely. Sadly, all this largely occurs on 24×7 TV or social media, which emphasise “prompt options” and folks tending to preach or sensationalise reasonably than purpose. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been critical deliberations and that options haven’t been formulated. However we enterprise to recommend that this has not at all times been with the involvement of non-biased stakeholders. The aim of this text is to articulate points in addition to recommend actionable programmes to handle the issue of stubble burning, comprehensively and sustainably.

We really feel greater than a twinge of remorse as a decade in the past, throughout the tenure of one of many authors of this piece as Secretary MNRE, “job forces” had been constituted to judge the techno-economic viability in addition to develop enterprise fashions for farm waste to power initiatives, with “stubble burning” being the targeted space. Regrettably, not a lot fructified from these efforts. CERC issued tariff orders for biomass gasifier/biogas energy, which grew to become inconsequential with photo voltaic and wind energy tariffs declining to 33 per cent of that of biomass energy.

The MNRE supported “pilot initiatives” of manure to bio-CNG. The duty forces made suggestions on turning farm waste to superior biofuels. It was solely in 2018 that these morphed into the Gobardhan Scheme and Nationwide Coverage on Biofuels, albeit with limitations associated to offtake agreements and financing devices — that’s impeding capability creation.

Paddy stubble poses main challenges in North India — the amount of the farm waste is humongous and the window for disposing of it’s too small. With the supply of wheat straw for cattle fodder, farmers haven’t any incentive to gather the stubble.

In 2019, the governments of Punjab and Haryana introduced Rs 2,500/acre as a bonus to small farmers who keep away from burning stubble however there was the negligible implementation of this subsidy in 2019 or 2020, for causes that want no elaboration. We solely flag that the annual value of Rs 2,500 crore (for Four million hectares of paddy cultivation space) might discover higher software.

Choices for stubble administration are broadly on-field administration, alternate cropping and processing to biofuels.

On-field administration includes mulching the stubble into fields by customised equipment. Subsidy is given for buying tools however this takes care of solely 20 per cent of the associated fee – moreover prices, farmers are additionally saddled with operation and upkeep points and the time issue isn’t resolved both. Moreover, mulching carbon-rich stubble impacts soil C:N ratio, necessitating correct nitrogenous fertiliser administration other than the potential floor accumulation of potassium (which is much less cellular than nitrogen). The Punjab Agriculture College positively has options however, adoption by hundreds of thousands of farmers, requires calibrated implementation and massive extension companies.

The nation has surplus grains and grain cultivation has scaled up in UP, MP, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar. Nonetheless, the farmers of Punjab, having toiled laborious to feed the nation, don’t appear able to undertake alternate crops with out revenue safety. These options could possibly be the cultivation of silage crops (hybrid sorghum, hybrid napier grass, maize). They’ve a excessive yield, enabling farmers to fulfill the feedstock wants of cattle, may also be used to supply biofuels vegetation and the cultivated space may be interspersed with horticulture (with biofuels facilitating chilly chain infrastructure).

Biomass Depots: It’s important to undertake on-field baling of stubble, combination bales in a depot and enter into “bankable” agreements for provides to Bio-Vitality Crops. There must be fiscal incentives (capital subsidy from MNRE and curiosity subsidy from state governments) enabling inexperienced entrepreneurship.

Biomass Energy Crops: The Punjab Vitality Growth Company has actively supported the biomass energy sector, together with provisioning for a excessive feed-in tariff of Rs8/ KWh, however capability creation, in addition to stubble consumption, is comparatively low. A pointy decline in photo voltaic and wind tariffs, although, is a constraint. The prices of building a year-round “bankable” provide chain for paddy straw bales is one other deterrent.

Strong Biofuels: These comprise briquettes and pellets. Briquettes are fired in industrial boilers or combustors however the demand in Punjab and Haryana will not be excessive. Pellets may be co-fired in utility vary boilers & NTPC has issued EOI’s for five million tonnes of pellets (on the fee of Rs 5,500 to six,000 per tonne) for firing in 17 of their energy vegetation. Nonetheless, investor response has been muted, as pellet manufacturing is capital intensive, coupled with excessive power + O&M prices, other than stubble bales prices, for year-round operations. It’s additionally a moot level as as to if NTPC can higher deploy the Rs 2,000 crore annual incremental value (for displacing Grade E coal by 5 million tonnes pellets).

Liquid biofuels embody bioethanol, drop-in fuels, bio-oil, bio-methanol. The present focus is on 2G Ethanol. Oil manufacturing corporations have introduced 12 ethanol-based initiatives that want stubble amounting to 150,000 tonnes yearly. The Ministry of Petroleum and Pure Gasoline’s “JI-VAN” Scheme gives viability hole funding to allow assembly the mixing goal of 20 per cent by 2030. Nonetheless, the influence on stubble burning will likely be marginal, given the excessive capital expenditure per lakh tonnes of stubble consumed.

Gaseous biofuels embody producer gasoline, biogas and inexperienced hydrogen. The present focus is on biogas upgraded to Bio-CNG, with co-product being compost. MoP&NG’s SATAT scheme, introduced in 2018, envisaged 5,000 vegetation, sometimes rated 3,000 tons/12 months bio-CNG, consuming about 33,000 tons/12 months of paddy stubble. OMC’s issued a number of EOI and signed a couple of hundred MoU’s. Nonetheless, hardly any vegetation have been commissioned or reached monetary closure. There seems to be a particular anomaly within the OMC’s offtake worth for Bio-CNG (CBG) as in comparison with that supplied for first-generation bioethanol or biodiesel. We current the present offtake costs of OMC’s (a) 1G Ethanol from b-heavy molasses: Rs 54.27/l (or Rs 67.8/Kg); warmth worth of 26.5 MJ/Kg (b) biodiesel from Used Cooking Oil: Rs 51/l (Rs 55.4/Kg), going as much as Rs 58 in 12 months 5; warmth worth of 37.Eight MJ/Kg (c) Bio-CNG: Rs 46/Kg mounted for Three years, open-ended years Four to 10; warmth worth of 53.Eight MJ/Kg.

This matter requires critical consideration by MoP&NG and earliest revision of bio-CNG offtake charges in addition to issuing “bankable” offtake settlement for 15 years, to facilitate low-cost challenge financing. It’s crucial that India adopts a technology-agnostic coverage for selling superior biofuels. Enticing “offtake” charges for 1G Ethanol, laudably, helps Sugarcane Farmers however they represent solely Four per cent of the farmer households in India. Processing agriculture residues to bio-CNG and compost will profit many extra farmer households, with manifold collateral advantages that accrue from assured availability of sustainable power/ mobility.

Who will bell the cat?

Gupta is former chairman, UPSC, Krishnan is an professional in power and infrastructure

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