Current AffairsNews

Grant of financial support for establishment of paddy straw pelletisation and torrefaction plants

Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav, presided over a workshop to kick start an initiative to tackle stubble burning.  The Minister released CPCB Guidelines for grant of one-time financial support for promoting establishment of paddy straw based pelletisation and torrefaction plants. These plants, once set up, would utilise a sizeable portion of the unmanaged paddy straw and help address the issue of crop residue burning and the resultant air pollution.

Speaking at the workshop, Shri Bhupender Yadav said that the Government has taken various steps to tackle the issue of stubble burning and a large quantity of paddy straw is now being managed through in-situ and ex-situ management options. Statutory directions have been issued to thermal power plants to co-fire biomass based Pellets, Torrefied Pellets/Briquettes (with focus on paddy straw) with Coal (up to 5-10%) and to industries operating in NCR other than GNCT of Delhi to switch over to PNG or biomass fuels during 2022. These have led to a large demand for biomass based pellets, though supply is on lower side due to slow/ limited growth of aggregators/ suppliers. Thus, CPCB guidelines would bridge a crucial gap in the biomass supply chain. 

The guidelines give preference to units proposing to install equipment that is made in India.   Preference is also given to those units which have agreement with farmers located in NCT of Delhi, States of Punjab and Haryana and NCR districts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, to ensure assured supply of paddy straw. 

Union Minister expressed that Paddy straw burning in Northern regions of India has emerged as one of the major causes of air pollution during winters, especially in Delhi-NCR. Under CPCB guidelines, individuals/entrepreneurs/ companies, interested in setting up pelletisation and torrefaction plants, using only paddy straw generated in the NCT of Delhi, States of Punjab & Haryana, and NCR districts of Rajasthan & Uttar Pradesh can submit an application for obtaining a one-time grant on capital investment.

The Minister urged the farmers to avoid stubble burning and promote its utilization being a valuable resource. He also urged agricultural entrepreneurs or agripreneurs to apply for availing grants under the guidelines. He said that it has a potential to create employment among the rural youth.

Emphasis was laid on the need for collaborative efforts of State Pollution Control Boards/Committees, and other concerned agencies for effective implementation of guidelines.   The Minister expressed confidence that the positive momentum created from the State Environment Ministers’ Meet will help in executing a collective and cohesive approach in managing air pollution. 

Under the guidelines, a maximum grant of Rs. 14 lakh per Ton/hr for non-torrefied pellet plant and Rs. 28 lakh per Ton/hr for a torrefied pellet plant is being provided under the guidelines, with an overall cap of Rs. 70 lakhs for the former and Rs. 1.4 crore for the latter. A corpus of Rs. 50 crores has been earmarked for utilisation through the guidelines. Assuming complete utilization of the corpus, over 1 million metric tonnes of paddy straw based pellets are expected to be generated every year. With supplemental efforts by other stakeholders, the guidelines are expected to enhance paddy straw utilization in power plants and industries, catalyse rural economy and further the spirit of entrepreneurship.

The Ministry has also granted 190 Environment Clearances (EC) so far for Grain based Ethanol production projects aggregating 34368 KLPD and all these projects have been granted EC in a record time of around 45-50 days, the Minister said.  The Minister said that the first 2G Ethanol Plant in Panipat, which the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation two months ago, is expected to utilize ~2 lakh metric tonnes of paddy straw every year.