Power Major NTPC Plan To Buy Farm Stubble Raise Hopes Of Cleaner Air

The initiative by the state-run NTPC could encourage farmers to collect the crop residue left behind in the farms by use of mechanized harvesters and turn it over.

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Power Major NTPC Plan To Buy Farm Stubble Raise Hopes Of Cleaner Air

On an average a farmer gets around 2 tonnes of stubble or straw in an acre. (File)


Raising hopes that farmers would not need to burn crop residue that has contributed to the dense smog in north India this year, the country's largest power producer has decided to buy crop residue from farmers and blend it with coal at its power plants.

The initiative by the state-run NTPC could encourage farmers to collect the crop residue left behind in the farms by use of mechanized harvesters and turn it over. The power utility will pay Rs 5,500 per tonne for the crop residue.

On an average a farmer gets around 2 tonnes of stubble or straw in an acre. "NTPC will bring a tender to buy the pellets of this farm residue... It will help farmers earn around Rs 11,000 per acre," Power Minister RK Singh announced, hopeful that the system will create a new market for suppliers of the stubble who will make arrangements with farmers.

The minister said mixing of pellets up to 10 per cent of the total fuel in a power plant was possible without affecting its efficiency in terms of gross calorific value.

The crop residue would still get burnt but experts believe the pollution that emanates from the process would be much less in comparison since coal plants are mandated to use pollution control equipment.

The government is in talks with all state governments to make this step mandatory for all the thermal power plants in their jurisdiction, Mr Singh said.

But thermal power companies alone account for 80 percent of all industrial emissions of particulate matter, sulphur and nitrous oxides in India. The shutdown of Delhi's coal-fired Badarpur power plant was one of the first steps outlined in a graded response action plan that is enforced in the national capital. A Supreme Court mandated anti-pollution authority had ordered the plant to close last month when its plan came into force.


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