Already awaiting funds from the Union government to deal with straw management in the state, the cash-strapped Punjab government has sought help from private companies to solve the problem crop residue burning under their Social Corporate Responsibility (CSR).

Interestingly, as many as 15 such companies from the state and outside have shown their interest to go with the state government’s initiative to control stubble burning.

The companies have agreed to provide the mechanical and financial help to the farmers and the government agencies dealing with straw management.

The development is significant, as the state government has just received a communication from the Union government to provide Rs 665 crore for straw management in Punjab for the period of two years.

As part of the first installment a sum of Rs 395 crore is expected to be released by the end of this month.

“We have prepared the action plan. The companies under CSR activity are ready to participate. Last year we had adopted the same formula on demonstration basis and it was helpful,” state nodal officer for crop residue management, Manmohan Kalia told The Statesman.

As per the information, as many as 55 farmers of the Kallar Majri village in Nabha have received an incentive of over Rs 3.12 Lakh for not burning paddy straw last year. The state government had projected Kallar Majri as a model village at National Green Tribunal (NGT) last year.

Meanwhile, president of Bharti Kissan Union (Ekta) Sidupur, Jagjeet Singh Dallewal, said that despite the claims of the state government on straw management the reality is far different.

He said that farmers have no other option than burning the crop residues at the moment.

“A cost of Rs 8,000 per acre is needed to maintain the land. Due to this, only the farmers are forced to face the consequences. The poor farmers are not capable to set up huge machinery required to deal with crop residues,” he said.

Dallewal also said the state government needs to adopt more villages and expedite its efforts to avoid financial loss to farmers.

By 17 May, the Punjab chief secretary is required to submit an affidavit before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that all arrangements are in place to check stubble burning after the paddy harvest.

Moreover, the Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has exhorted the industry to partner with the state government in implementing its social welfare agenda by contributing a part of their CSR budget to the recently launched Social Security Fund.