BAD AIR QUALITY: STUBBLE BURNING AND WAY OUT

Due to a spike in the number of stubble burning cases in the neighbouring states Delhi experience’s bad Air Quality

Stubble burning is intentionally setting fire to the straw stubble that remains after grains, like paddy, wheat, etc., have been harvested; to cut cost,due to less income, due to unable to afford modern costly equipments.

Stubble burning is harmful to health, produce hazardous gases; methane, Carbon Monoxide, volatile organic compounds; adversely affecting human health ,rendering soil less fertile; heat produced due to burning leads to loss of soil moisture and useful microbes.

The challenge of disposing agricultural waste in India is significant. According to IARI, the net cropped area is 141.4 million hectares, and crop residues are estimated to be around 600 million tonnes every year, with generation being the highest in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Maharashtra, Punjab and Gujarat.

Over the years, several policies have been proposed to address the issue, but they have been mainly in-situ technologies. The failure of these policies show that it is time to try out new multi-pronged approaches to tackle the problem:

The Centre must look into the Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s (IARI) suggestion of converting stubble to manure using a chemical. Incentivizing farmers to shift away from water-guzzling paddy and diversifying cropping patterns is one. Utilising crop residue in power plants, brick kilns and biomass gasifiers is another. A report by the Council on Energy Environment and Water suggests that increasing farmers’ accessibility to stubble managing equipment by setting up more custom hiring centres and promoting rental models may work. Last year, Punjab and Haryana provided incentives to farmers, at Rs 2,500 per acre, For any multi-pronged approach to work, there needs to be coordination between four groups: Farmers, states, Centre and scientists. At present, there seems to a disconnect among all these groups and a lack of political will to find a solution. 

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