Agricultural universities and research institutions must devise technologies and processes for farmers in Punjab, Haryana and other similar landscapes, so that alternate crops to paddy are sowed in such belts, which are equally remunerative with least stubble residues and hardly contribute to any air pollution.

This was stated by Bhure Lal, chairman, Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), and member, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee, during his address at a workshop titled Bulk Utilisation of Crop Residue for Economic and Environmental Sustainability, held in New Delhi under the aegis of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) recently.

Lal elaborated that with the increasing salinity in the soil of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal and Rajasthan, its productivity was getting ruined. “Paddy is a water-guzzling crop. However, it is remunerative. Hence, farmers of this belt need to grow and sow other crops that are equally remunerative and will cause virtually no pollution provided agricultural scientists and universities come out with such research as could transform the future of sowing pattern in the aforesaid states,” he added.

He also suggested that the paddy stubble could be utilised for commercial applications with suitable technologies in place that could prove to be a win-win situation for farmers, the industry and the consumers.

However, the EPCA chief also emphasised that the paddy stubble should be converted into fertiliser within a time span of 25 days, so that it can be merged into the soil to ensure higher fertility.

The current practice, though it is not prevalent widely in Punjab and Haryana, takes 45 days, whereas the farmers would find it of use provided the time taken for the intended purpose is restricted within 25 days, for which Lal appealed to the researchers and scientists to come out with a solution for this and also emphasised that crop residue can be converted into an asset as fertiliser.

Others present on the occasion included V N Kale, additional commissioner, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare; Indra Mani Mishra, head, Division of Agriculture Engineering; S K Goyal, senior principal scientist and head, CSIR-NEERI Delhi Zonal Centre, Varun Gupta, chairman, Water and Solid Waste Management Committee, PHDCCI, and its secretary, Kanchan Zutshi.