Stubble burning and air pollution
What is Stubble burning and air pollution ?
- The air quality index for Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida were in the ‘severe’ category with values of 469, 500 and 500 respectively according to the Central Pollution Control Board.
- Incentivizing alternative uses of stubble and promoting technological solutions to recycle it can help check pollution.
What are the factors contributing to air pollution?
- Stubble burning by farmers in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana is the prime reason.
- Stubble burning is still continuing in this regions despite it being banned by the Punjab Pollution Control Board.
- Construction dusts and high traffic had also aggravated air pollution in Delhi and surrounding cities.
- This coincides almost each year with the onset of foggy winters in North India.
What measures need to be taken to address stubble burning?
- Stubble management –In most rice growing regions of Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, farmers get economic value for paddy straw by selling it as cattle feed.
- Both Punjab and Gujarat are home to sizeable dairy co-operatives, which can follow South India’s model.
- There is a huge agribusiness opportunity for the farmers in this region by trading nutrition-rich stubble for livestock and unlocking a potential value-added chain.
- Economic incentives –Investment by State governments in ramping up mechanisation with built-in incentives for farmers will help generate additional income for farmers.
- It will also create additional employment opportunities in this region.
- Private partnership –In much of the US and Europe, crop stubble is cut into bales, and is a much sought after by mushroom growers, livestock owners, and for pulp.
- Crop stubble can be re purposed to create another value chain around low-cost, Eco-friendly wood products.
- For all this private sector and its expertise can be roped in to create necessary infrastructure and transport links to connect the farms to retail markets.
- Encouraging Innovation –Punjab Agricultural University had invented a Super-Straw Management System (SSMS).
- It works to cut, take out stubble, drill wheat seeds, and evenly deposit any loose crop residue over the farm.
- SSMS deposits crop residue over the farm, adding organic matter over time, retaining nutrients, water and replenishing soil structure.
- Such innovations need to be encouraged by the government till it reaches every farmers of this region.