Context- The contribution of stubble burning in neighboring states like Punjab, Haryana and UP is playing a major role in the spike in Delhi pollution .
The stubble burning and farm fires has added almost 1/5th to the city’s PM-2.5 pollution level in november month. This data is given by one of the air pollution monitoring systems- SAFAR( System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research).
What is stubble burning-Paddy stubble burning in stateslike Haryana, Punjab,UP etc around Delhi, on the starting of winter every year, increases the level of PM 2.5, creating a health problem especially respiratory.
Why burning looks like the only option?
Due to constraint of time and to save on costs of stubble disposal, farmers in Punjab, Haryana and UP burn their combined harvested fields to prepare it for sowing of next season crop.
What happened with stubble burning?
Smog gets concentrated as cold weather and low winds in this season trap the smoke particles near the ground surface. However, stubble burning is only one of the many factors responsible for this smog.
Other Factors are-
⦁ Vehicular emissions, especially from heavy vehicles, which contribute more to pollution. According to some studies road dust accounts for almost 35% of PM 2.5 in the air.
⦁ Power plants, industries and domestic cooking .
⦁ Solid waste burning either by municipal or by households
⦁ Dust from construction sites and areas
Alternatives to Stubble Burning-
⦁ Stubble straw can be used by Biomass energy plants for generating power like biochar
⦁ Using a Happy Seeder Machine, which can drill the wheat seeds into soil and deposit the straw over the sown area as soil cover.
⦁ The paddy straw chopper-cum-spreader machine can be used to chop paddy straw left behind on mechanically harvested paddy fields. It cuts the stubble or straw into pieces and spreads it around the farm in a one go, so the showing of next crop becomes easy
⦁ Residual can be used along with sugarcane residue and leaves to make a rich quality of organic manure.
⦁ Pit decomposition in the farm itself with microbial application along with nitrogen enrichment will accelerate the process.
⦁ The IARI has developed a solution it has named ‘Pusa’, which can decompose crop residue into manure by accelerating the decomposition process. These agents act on the stubble to make it soft and ploughable, break down its molecular components and release the nutrients into the field.
⦁ Crop diversification from rice to other less residual crops.
There is an ardent need to address this issue in a more wholistic manner. Considering most farmers are small and marginal, the Government needs to provide them with either financial incentives or other modes of disposal. Meanwhile, in regions in and around NCT Delhi, measures must be taken to mitigate other pollutants through public transportation, ban on old diesel vehicles , banning heavy vehicles entry to the city even in the night time and polluting industries, vacuum cleaning of road dust etc.
*pollutants monitored by SAFAR are-
PM2.5,PM10, Ozone, Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, and Mercury.