Stubble burning: Delhi govt plans 3rd-party audit of Pusa bio-decomposer tech

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New Delhi, Jul 9 (PTI) The Delhi government has written to a consultancy firm of the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, asking it to conduct an audit of the use of Pusa bio-decomposer, which the Arvind Kejriwal dispensation had hailed as a new, cost-effective solution to stubble burning last year.

The decision comes against the backdrop of some 'negative' comments from farmers in Punjab and 'positive' feedback from Haryana following the use of the technique, which uses a microbial solution for fermenting stubble into manure, officials in the Delhi Environment Department told PTI.

Former Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar had last year said that Pusa bio-decomposer will be tried out in some areas of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and if the technique is found successful, it will be expanded to more areas.

'We have written to WAPCOS to conduct an audit of Pusa bio-decomposer in Delhi. They will take feedback from the farmers who sprayed the solution in their fields last year,' A P Saini, Joint Director, Agriculture Department, said.

'We have already released the results of the efficacy survey conducted last year. Now, we are looking to get Pusa bio-decomposer validated by a third party (WAPCOS). The audit is likely to start next week,' the official said.

KPS Malik from WAPCOS confirmed that the Delhi government has approached them to conduct an audit, but said they are 'yet to receive a formal go ahead'.

'We will hold a meeting with officials of the Delhi government soon and ask them to provide area-wise lists of beneficiaries,' he said. Officials said the firm will try to ascertain if the use of Pusa bio-decomposer gave them enough time to prepare their field for the next crop.

'We will also try to find out the impact of the solution on the soil quality,' an official said.

Farmers say there is a small window of 10-15 days between paddy harvesting and sowing of wheat and they burn stubble as it is a cheap and time-saving method to manage the straw and prepare their field for the next crop.

Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, who developed Pusa bio-decomposer, say it can turn crop residue into manure in 15 to 20 days and therefore, can prevent stubble burning, which is one of the main reasons behind high levels of pollution in the capital in October and November.

The solution was sprayed free of cost in 2,000 acres of non-basmati rice fields in Delhi starting October 13 last year.

The Delhi government later set up a 15-member impact assessment committee to ascertain its effectiveness.

In November, Chief Minister Kejriwal said that the solution decomposed 70 to 95 per cent of crop residue in 24 villages in the capital.

He had also said the Delhi government would submit the impact assessment report of the bio-decomposer technique to the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) and urge it to direct all state governments to implement it.

Last year, the share of stubble burning in Delhi's PM2.5 pollution had risen to 40 per cent on November 1. PTI GVS ANB ANB

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