Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to the Prime Minister seeking a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal on paddy, in addition to its MSP, as an incentive to dissuade farmers from burning the crop’s residue. In his letter, the chief minister said the bonus would be given to only those farmers who manage paddy residue or stubble without burning it, an official spokesman said here today. Amarinder pointed out in his letter that he had made this request earlier also as a measure to compensate farmers for the additional burden of managing paddy residue.
Though the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for paddy had been increased by Rs 80 per quintal for Kharif-2017, the hike was not adequate to meet the additional cost of cultivation in terms of seeds and fertilizers, leave alone the extra expense of residue management, the chief minister said. At present, the MSP of paddy for the 2016-17 fiscal is fixed at Rs 1,470 for common grade and Rs 1,510 for A-grade varieties, the spokesman said. Stubble burning is a major issue in the paddy cultivating regions and is currently under adjudication in the National Green Tribunal, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India, he said.
Acting on the various directives issued by the courts, the Punjab government has already initiated steps to check stubble burning, including grant of subsidy on purchase of agriculture machinery for crop residue management, the spokesman said. The use of this machinery puts an additional burden of around Rs 3,000 per acre on the farmers, he added.