How states, NTPC failed to fulfil vows to tackle stubble

NEW DELHI: Neither public sector company NTPC’s plan to procure biomass pellets in adequate quantities, nor the northern states’ assurances to use bio-decomposer in identified areas to deal with paddy stubble could fully achieve their targets, leading to the air pollution crisis in the capital.
Officials in the environment ministry who analysed what went wrong with the promises made to it in its September review meeting on the issue noted that the situation could have been much better if Punjab and Haryana and the National Thermal Power Corporation had worked as per their respective plans to deal with crop residue.
“NTPC had promised us under their existing plan to use 20 million tonnes of stubble for four years. But it could manage only around 3.5 million tonnes. It’s a big let down. We were banking on the public sector entity to deal with the situation to an extent,” said an official.
He said the states “told us that they, along with private companies, would help farmers use IARI’s Pusa bio-decomposer in over 16 lakh acres of paddy-grown areas free of cost. Even that could not happen. Only half of what they promised has been covered so far.”
NTPC has, however, reasons for being short on targets as, officials said, the issue is on the supply side and not on the demand side. None of the stubble-burning states have invested in or incentivised setting up of units for making pellets from farm residue resulting in a dearth of pellets. Company executives said it has received only 58,000 tonnes of pellets against orders for 9.5 lakh tonnes of pellets.
“NTPC has been running sustained ad campaigns in the catchment states to encourage and promote setting up of pellet-making units and their benefits to farmers but that hasn’t improved supply. We are again launching a campaign to promote pellet-making,” a senior company executive said.
The policy of using farm residue pellets in NTPC’s power plants was announced on November 16, 2017. An acre of cropping yields about two tonnes of stubble or straw. A tonne of stubble fetches Rs 5,500, which yields an additional income of about Rs 11,000 per acre for farmers. Ash generated from burning of agro residue-based fuel in power plants gets absorbed in electrostatic precipitators and does not cause air pollution. Also, the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted from their combustion is absorbed in the next crop cycle by photosynthesis, which does not increase the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *