When IAS officer Vikram Yadav was appointed the district collector in Ambala, he decided to use his power to come up with a solution to stubble burning.

Vikram and his team came up with a plan to demarcate areas into red and yellow zones.

The red areas would be those that see over six farm fires in a year, while yellow would indicate up to five incidents. The exercise narrowed down eight red zones and 89 yellow zones.

The aim, says Vikram, was to reduce cases of farm fires in the red zone down to zero.

“We introduced smart seeder machines, shredders, straw balers with a rack, a rotary slasher, a hydraulic reversible plough, etc, that turned the residue into fertiliser.”

The IAS officer adds, “The farmers were offered commercial alternatives such as selling stubble to power plants and connected with local packaging industries as well.”

The exercise saw an 80 per cent reduction in farm fires compared to the number of reports in 2020.

Nirmal Singh, a farmer from Dhurala village, says, “I rented and later purchased equipment to convert the stubble into fine organic matter. Now my 25-acre land has much softer soil, and I expect it to help increase productivity.”

Vikram aims to bring the numbers of farm fires down to zero.

“I hope the success of the initiative remains consistent in coming years, and it serves as a model for other farmers to prevent stubble burning,” he adds.