Can paddy pellets be answer to the stubble-burning menace in Punjab- Explained | The Financial Express

Can paddy pellets be answer to the stubble-burning menace in Punjab- Explained

The Department of Science and Technology and environment has already issued a draft notification regarding the same and has invited public comments as well.

Can paddy pellets be answer to the stubble-burning menace in Punjab- Explained
By replacing 20 percent usage of the coal with paddy pellets the state can reduce up to 200 tonnes of coal

In order to cut down on the pollution caused by stubble burning and reduce the use of coal-based fuels, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has suggested that brick kilns use paddy-based pellet fuel for their energy requirements instead of coal.

The Pollution Board of the state in its letter mentioned that it is formulating a policy where 20 per cent of the coal will be replaced by paddy straw-based pellets. The policy is being made based on a study conducted by the board and the Punjab State Council For Science and Technology (PSCST) a regarding the use of paddy pellets to reduce air pollution while still taking care of the economic benefits of the kiln owners.

The Department of Science and Technology and environment has already issued a draft notification regarding the same and has invited public comments as well.

Why PPCB wants to implement the policy

The average coal consumption of a brick kiln is around 900 tonnes of coal for the 6-7 months that it is operating. The state at present has 2,700 kilns with at least 2, 100 being upgraded. The estimated coal consumption of these facilities would be around 19 lakh tonnes annually, which would cost the state around Rs 4,750 crore. The cost of one-ton coal is around Rs 25,000. A 120-ft high brick kiln can accommodate 10-12 lakh clay bricks for hardening.

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By replacing 20 percent usage of the coal with paddy pellets the state can reduce up to 200 tonnes of coal burning per kiln year i.e. 4.20 lakh tonnes worth Rs 1,050 crores. But to replace 4.20 lakh tonnes of coal, 10 lakh tonnes of pellets are required as its consumption is more than double as compared to coal.

Is the solution achievable for brick kiln workers?

According to a local brick kiln owner, who is based in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur, 100% of the energy requirement of a brick kiln can be met by using paddy-based fuel, the Indian Express reported. He said that if the state government is serious about reducing the pollution caused by the burning of coal, then it should start implementing the policy immediately by utilising Punjab’s 40 to 50 lakh tonnes of stubble.

Is the cost incurred to replace coal with paddy pellets feasible?

According to experts, the cost of transporting and storing paddy can be lower than that of coal. The remaining portion of the fuel cost is the processing fee. According to the PPCB, this process can help the state save around 500 to 600 crores annually. Besides being environmentally friendly, the use of paddy-based fuel also helps in achieving the stringent emission standard set for brick kilns.

Roadblocks to overcome

Unfortunately, converting paddy straw into fuel for brick kilns is not feasible in the state due to the lack of proper facilities and the high cost of doing so. The owners of these facilities also want the government to provide them with the necessary support and resources to start using this fuel.

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