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The Aakash Project will continue until March 2025, and the research results described in this review will only be part of the total. We plan to make additional observations at the site between September and November 2023, and simulation studies are ongoing. In addition, members of the public health team plan to conduct further research on the attitudes of the local residents. This paper is based on the achievements of the is Aakash Project (Project No. 14200133), which supported by the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN: a constituent member of NIHU). The intensive field campaign of 2022 was conducted with support from the Centers for International Projects Trust (CIPT), India. An archive of the local newspaper Tribune was created by Dr. Haruhisa Asada, Nara Women’s University. The author acknowledges the cooperation of the present leader, Dr. Prabir Patra, and all members of the Aakash Project. 4.4 Ex-situ Management of Rice Straw 5. Future Prospects Acknowledgements machinery. the central government provided significant subsidies to support farmers who installed new agricultural machinery, such as the Happy-Seeder, Super-Seeder and others. This policy was called the Central Sector Scheme for Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) issued a report, based on interviews with farmers, examining the effectiveness of the CSSPAM measures (Kumar et al., 2022). The government provided subsidies to Punjab to install 90,000 units of agricultural machinery and to educate farmers on the benefits of new technology for shallow incorporation of straw into soil, using new machines. However, despite these subsidies, stubble burning has not subsided, and by 2020 straw burning was taking place in 60% of all paddy fields in the Punjab. According to the PAU report, for farmers to accept this new method of cultivation more training will be needed. At this point, CSSPAM is certainly not a definitive solution to stubble burning, and the situation is not expected to change drastically in the next few years. In 2018–2019, Ex-situ management involves taking rice straw out of the field and using it for other purposes. Potential uses for rice straw include cattle feed, paper-making material (Singh and Arya, 2021), mulch for other crops, bedding for garlic and mushrooms (Vatta and Budhiraja, 2021), packaging material (Ibrahim et al., 2021), fuel for baking bricks, and compost for fertilizer. In recent years, there has been a growing trend to develop new technologies for reusing rice straw as a resource (Singh and Arya, 2021). Some farmers are utilizing rice straw for mulching potato or horticultural crops, and its use as bedding for garlic and mushrooms is popular all over India. In the Punjab, there is little demand for rice straw as fodder because of the abundance of wheat straw. Since wheat straw is preferred by cattle, many farmers use it as fodder instead of burning it, though some wheat straw is still burned. Only a small nomadic people called “Gujjars” uses rice straw as fodder, as it is about one-sixteenth the price of wheat straw. Though livestock feed is scarce in India as a whole, it is not easy to transport straw over long distances, and a domestic market in India is likely not a promising option. On the other hand, expectations have been growing in recent years for the use of rice straw as a biofuel. In October 2021, the Ministry of Power (MoP) amended an existing policy on biomass usage. The ministry made it mandatory for coal-based thermal plants to use at least 5% biomass pellets made primarily of agro-residue in energy generation. This policy is called Mission SAMARTH (Sustainable Agrarian Mission on Use of Agro Residue in Thermal Power Plants). Co-firing with 5%–10% biofuel requires 76–152 mega-tons of pellets (Kamal Vatta, private communication, 2022). Such large demand for rice Tackling Air Pollution from Agricultural Residue Burning (CSSPAM). straw would likely have a significant social impact. Companies that collect rice straw and sell it to electric power companies have already emerged, and there are examples of Japanese companies supporting them. The Aakash Project is currently working with Japanese government officials and related companies to gather information India-Japan Environmental Week on January 12–13, 2023: https://aakash-rihn.org/en/indiajapan-environmentweek2023/), and in the future, we would like to promote cooperation between Japan and India for introduction of technologies that contribute to the effective use of rice straw. In solving the rice-straw-burning problem, there is no single solution. Even if we succeed in converting rice straw into biofuel, eliminating open stubble burning completely, groundwater depletion will continue as long as rice cultivation continues. Making matters worse, climate change will reduce the water storage capacity of the Himalayan glaciers, further depleting groundwater. Under these circumstances, it is currently necessary to take measures to prevent unnecessary groundwater consumption as much as possible while continuing moderate the development of new technologies is important, but at the same time, as reported by PAU, more emphasis needs to be placed on education to ensure farmers accept new technologies as they are introduced and know how to use them properly. (see materials rice cultivation. Innovation from the through 9

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