Birlasoft and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Foundation signed an MoU towards the third phase of Shodhan, a crop residue management program. As part of the collaboration, the program aims at improving the quality of air through “Zero Stubble Burning”; a yearlong mass movement to eradicate stubble burning in 13,000 acres of farmland across 20 villages of Punjab and Haryana and curb air pollution caused by it. The project is focused on bringing about behavioural change among farmers and promote the adoption of sustainable and environment-friendly straw management and farm practices.
Crop residue burning is easy and economical to manage the crop residues which makes it a feasible option for farmers. Moreover, lack of awareness and non-availability of suitable technologies, stubble burning has become a common practice among farmers which results in PM 2.5 and other hazardous gaseous pollutants like CO2, CO, CH4. Through this project, Birlasoft along with CII Foundation aim to improve the local air quality by reducing burning of straw as well as enhancing the soil and farm ecology by incorporating biomass in the soil. It is also focused to save 10-15% of water and reduce use of chemical inputs such as weedicide and fertilizer.
Speaking on the potential of the program, Samit Deb, Chief People Officer, Birlasoft said, “At Birlasoft, we believe that there is more to being part of the community than just running a business. Knowing the harmful effects of stubble burning and how it hampers our environment, we have furthered this initiative with CII Foundation to help solve the situation of crop burning. Stepping into the third phase of the program, we hope to counter the improper management of crop residue and at the same time educate and benefit the farmers our country.”
Commenting on this, Seema Arora, CEO – CII Foundation and Associate Director General, CII said, “CII is working towards developing a multi-stakeholder partnership led by industry to galvanise action to combat “air pollution” nationally. Our work in Punjab to mitigate stubble burning has been a success story so far in this endeavour. We are happy to partner with Birlasoft, which has played a prominent role in this whole effort. Many other industry members are joining hands, and we look forward to scale-up this collaborative initiative in next few years.”
After the success of the first two phases of Shodhan, the third phase will be implemented in two stubble burning hotspot districts of Punjab and Haryana. The two districts, Patiala and Fatehabad run across 13,000 acres of farmable land and 20 villages; and have had several stubble burning cases in the region. Through this program, the companies will not just bring about behavioural change among farmers but also support them with the recommended farm machineries and tools. This will also include handholding the farmers in the entire cropping cycles for next two years. At the end of Phase 3, Project Shodhan will have positively impacted 50 villages covering approximately 43,000 acres of farmable land.