In a bid to curb stubble burning that has been one of the reasons for dense smog in the country’s northern States, the Punjab government has decided to set up 400 processing plants before next year’s paddy season to convert paddy straw into bio-energy. “The plants will become operational before the next paddy season, thus preventing recurrence of the environmental hazard triggered by stubble burning,” an official spokesperson said in a statement.The MoU was signed on behalf of the Punjab government by R.K. Verma, CEO, Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion, and K. Iyyapan, MD of NEWAY, a Chennai-based company. “Plants will be set up by NEWAY Engineers MSW Private Limited with a total investment of ₹10,000 crore over the next 10 months,” added the spokesperson.The spokesperson said the company would use its breakthrough and patented pollution-free zero residue technology to ensure that there was no residue at the end of the process, thus preventing any land filling. “The technology will provide a sustainable solution to the environmental problems caused by burning of paddy residue in the State.” Under the agreement, the company will set up 400 cluster units for the 20 million tonnes of paddy straw expected to be generated in the State in a season. Each unit will have the capacity to process 50,000 tonnes through the year, or 150-175 tonnes per day per unit.