However, limited progress was made due to a scarcity of pellet manufacturers and power plants not taking up the use of biomass due to short supply.
The plan aims to resolve the issue of crop residue burning, especially after paddy harvesting at the onset of winter, when air quality worsens in the National Capital Region (NCR). The Indian central government intends to promote the use of green fuel to ease pollution.
Almost 30 million tonnes of crop residue is generated in these states after paddy harvesting, with Punjab accounting for 19 million tonnes. Nearly half of this is burnt in the fields.
In 2021, the ministry of power partnered with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to launch a project in Samarth, which initiated the use of biomass. Officials from CPCB and PPCB met on 6 October, with CPCB preparing a fund worth RS 50 crore to promote manufacturing of pellets and briquettes. The fund will be distributed across five states, but is likely to benefit Punjab due to the volume of crop residue there.
PPCB member secretary Karunesh Garg said that CPCB officials apprised the meeting that a subsidy of Rs 14 lakh per tonne would be provided for non-torrefied pellet manufacturing with the upper limit of Rs 70 lakh.
For torrefied pellet manufacturing (which has higher calorific value and is prepared at higher energy density), the upper susbidy limit will be Rs 1.40 crore. The manufacturer will have to begin production within three months of receiving CPCB approval.