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Centre's Refusal To Provide Cash Incentive To Farmers Impacted Campaign Against Farm Fires In Punjab: Gopal Rai

In July, Delhi and Punjab governments had jointly sent a proposal to the Centre and the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to help them give Rs 2,500 per acre as cash incentive to farmers in Punjab for not burning stubble.

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Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai
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Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Friday said the Centre's blunt refusal to provide cash incentive to farmers in Punjab for not burning crop residue has impacted the campaign against stubble burning in the agrarian state.

In July, Delhi and Punjab governments had jointly sent a proposal to the Centre and the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to help them give Rs 2,500 per acre as cash incentive to farmers in Punjab for not burning stubble.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said in September the Centre had turned down the proposal. Farmers say a cash incentive can help them cover the cost of fuel used in operating the machinery for the in-situ management (mixing crop residue in soil) of paddy straw.

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Addressing a press conference here, Rai said stubble burning in any area will have an impact on Delhi's air if the wind direction changes.

"So, we have been talking to the Punjab government. But the main problem there is that farmers had demanded financial support (for not burning stubble). The state government then prepared a proposal that said Delhi and Punjab would give Rs 500 each and the Centre should contribute Rs 1,500.

"However, the way the Centre has bluntly denied (the request)... it has impacted the entire campaign (against stubble burning) in the state. But the state government is conducting awareness campaigns and we hope that there will be fewer fire events this year as compared to last year. There would have been a big impact (on stubble burning) had the Centre provide support," he said.

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According to Punjab government officials, the Centre rejected the proposal saying it has been providing subsidised machinery to them such as happy seeder, rotavator and mulcher for the in-situ management of paddy straw and it didn't have money to dole out cash incentives. 

(With PTI Inputs)

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