Understanding Stubble Burning
Every harvest of paddy brings with it a residue of straw stubble as a by-product. This by-product of stubble which comes in huge quantities is partially used as cattle feed but most of it is dumped as waste by farmers. They resort to stubble burning – a practice of setting fire to get rid of stubble and clear the soil for the next crop.
Although it is banned by PPCB, farmers prefer stubble burning in states like Punjab and Haryana at the onset of winter every year due to its cost-effectiveness. CIMMTY estimates the amount of stubble that is burned every year at a massive 23 million tonnes across northern India.
The Trouble With Stubble Burning
It increases air pollution due to the smoke produced. The low wind speeds in winter allow the spread of smoke as far as places 250kms away. 15% of pollution in one of the world’s most polluted cities, the Delhi-NCR region, is caused by the burning of stubble in Punjab and Haryana.
One ton of stubble burning releases – 2kg of SO2, 3kg of particulate matter, 60kg of CO, 1460kg of CO2 and 199kg of ash.
Pollution due to stubble burning peaked up to 42% on a November Thursday this year and hugely contributes to the ‘Toxic Cloud’ over Delhi. The air pollution emergency is beyond reason enough to take the ban seriously and find an alternative solution to the problem.
Are There Any Alternative Solutions?
Bans, fines, the government’s Happy Seeder machine or Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s bio-decomposer didn’t stop farmers from setting these agricultural fires. But there are a few alternatives on the horizon and one is using stubble to produce Bio-CNG.
What Is Bio-CNG?
Bio-CNG or Bio Compressed Natural Gas is an eco-friendly fuel substitute for automobiles and cooking gas for households that are essentially made of paddy straw.
Why Turn to Bio-CNG?
Bio-CNG owes its increased usage to its non-toxicity. The benefits of bio-CNG don’t end there. Apart from turning waste stubble into utilizable energy, it does not contaminate land like other fuels. It restores the real purpose of air rather than aggravating asthma and other respiratory conditions.
One ton of stubble produces 110kg bio-CNG which makes 3000 meals.
Bio-CNG plants create thousands of employment opportunities to locals and farmers can generate an additional stream of income from selling their straw stubble to industries. Tons of organic fertilizer is also produced as a byproduct of manufacturing bio-CNG.
Concisely, bio-CNG efficiently manages waste, steers clear of polluting the dying environment, generates employment and reduces the risk of health scares. So, in turn, the question is ‘Why not turn to bio-CNG?’
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Also Read: Clearing the Biofuel Fog With Buyofuel