Every year, with winter, the quality of air deteriorates with an increase in air pollution in Delhi. And the practice of stubble burning in the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana further worsens the pollution in Delhi. On 16th October, the SC has appointed Justice (Retd) Madan B Lokur to act as a one-man monitoring committee to prevent stubble burning in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. Keeping in mind the urgent need to deal with the issue of stubble burning, the National Service Scheme and Bharat Scouts have been deployed for assisting the panel in monitoring the stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, and UP.
WHAT IS STUBBLE BURNING
Stubble Burning is a practice of removing or disposing of the crop residue of paddy from the field to sow wheat. It is commonly practiced in an area where a combined harvesting method is used that leaves the crop to reside behind after harvesting. In the combined harvesting method, combines machines are used that leave the stubble that is of no use to farmers. Since there is pressure on the farmers to sow the next crops and for that the field has to be burnt. And the cheapest and quickest solution for clearing the field is to burn the stubble that leads to air pollution not only in the states of Punjab and Haryana but also in the neighboring states and Delhi. From the last couple of years, stubble burning has become a serious concern as this time the air pollution is at peak regards to the use of firecrackers during Diwali, thereby deteriorating the overall air quality of Delhi.
DOES BURNING IS THE ONLY SOLUTION
Burning stubble is not the only solution to dispose of the crop residues but it’s the cheapest and quickest solution that makes it affordable for most of the farmers and which is why farmers prefer to burn the stubble. But there are other solutions in the form of technology that doesn’t lead to pollution. So, the most efficient technique is to use the machine Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) that is mounted on a tractor, and that not only cut the stubble but also drills the wheat seeds that have just been cleared up. Although there are no adverse consequences of the machine the price of the machine is too high for the farmers to afford it. The THS machine is available around Rs 1.3 lakh and the other machines like S-SMS are about Rs 1.2 lakh. Therefore, for farmers, there are no incentives to buy these costly machines and they resort to the cheap methods of burning stubble.
WHY THE PROBLEM EXIST ONLY IN NORTHERN STATES?
Our country relies on the states of Punjab, Haryana and western UP, and Uttarakhand for wheat production. And in these states, farmers have to sow wheat immediately after the paddy due to which the field has to be cleared for the next crop. To make sure that wheat grows properly and give maximum yield, the farmers in these states have to sow the crops. Although, states in south India also uses the practice of combine harvesting that leaves the stubble behind the major difference is that they don’t have any urgency to remove the stubble to make the land ready for the next crop.
CAN WE BLAME THE FARMERS?
Undoubtedly, farmers have no choices but to burn the stubble considering the pressure in which they have to sow the next crop and exorbitant prices at which the machines to dispose of the stubble is available. Although NGT recommends penalizing the farmers for burning the stubble despite this stubble burning continues as the disgruntled farmers who are already under huge debt don’t pay fines. Therefore, rather than penalizing the farmers, the government can incentivize the farmers for not burning the stubble. Also, if productions of other crops like maize are made more lucrative then farmers will switch to growing these crops that can reduce the stubble burning. Providing alternatives to farmers can be a better option rather than penalizing the farmers.