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The problem of managing crop stubble is seeing a major step towards resolution, with Karnal district of Haryana coming up with plans to utilise paddy straw in ethanol plants.

. The National Biofuel Policy has set the target for the blending of ‘green fuel’ ethanol in petrol, to cut down on the use of fossil fuels, and the demand and use of paddy straw therefore is likely to see an increase in the days ahead.
. In Karnal, as of now, paddy straw will be used by the ethanol plant of Indian Oil Corporation Limited. The processing will begin in April 2022, while procurement has already started.
. Though farmers will not be paid for the straw, the initiative is expected to help save them expenditure on straw management by way of hiring customised equipment.Managing paddy stubble has proved to be a challenge, with farmers resorting to burning it because of the limited time window left for sowing the rabi crop.
. According to the Commission for Air Quality Management, the incidence of stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh has shown a steep decline in 2021. But with the onset of winter — the period when air quality in Delhi-NCR gets affected the most — preventive measures are needed. Covid-19, which affects mostly the respiratory system, has served to underline the importance of a clean environment.
. There are also plans to set up an ethanol plant at Una in Himachal Pradesh, for which crop stubble will be procured from the adjoining states. There have also been individual initiatives like in Rahrianwali village of Punjab’s Muktsar district where villagers have taken to turning paddy straw into bales, used in cow shelters, and have supplied them to Rajasthan and Gujarat.
All this has been done without any financial assistance from the government or subsidy. More such efforts are needed to rid the region of a problem that has become endemic.

(GS Paper-3/ Economy/ Energy/ Biofuels)

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