Skip to main content

Pollution scare back in Delhi as neighbours fail to prevent crop residue burning (downtoearth)

This year, Delhi’s air quality started to worsen since the end of September with both PM2.5 and PM10 level showing a gradual rise. So, will the city once again be choked by deadly smog? A lot depends on its neighbouring states and how they address the issue of crop residue burning.

In both Haryana and Punjab, the state governments’ claims of offering support to farmers to prevent them from burning crop residue have been questioned. While Haryana government claims that they are holding awareness camps in villages and farmers are being offered subsidies up to Rs 63,000 on equipment to help clear crop stubbles without burning, reports suggest that stubble burning incidents continue unabated with farmers complaining of getting no help from the local authorities. Moreover, the authorities reportedly harassed marginal farmers in Panipat district by imposing fines for burning crop residue.

Similarly, the Punjab government claimed that it has adopted farmers from Kalar Majri—a ‘model’ village in the Patiala district and given them incentives to stop stubble burning. However, its claims were contested by the farmers in Sangrur district, who reportedly burned stubble to protest state government’s inaction.

The image depict the cumulative number and location of fires over Punjab and Haryana between September 30 and October 10. Credit: NASA
The image depict the cumulative number and location of fires over Punjab and Haryana between September 30 and October 10. Credit: NASA

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), on October 11, asked the Punjab government to bring the farmers who were given incentives to prevent them from burning crop residue. The tribunal had banned crop burning in 2015 to reduce air pollution in the National Capital Region. It had asked the government to help farmers manage the crop residue.

While issuing a slew of directions to Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh on September 22, the Delhi High Court noted that the “emission of particulate matter from this stubble burning is beyond any acceptable human endurance...”.

Going by the latest satellite images, crop residue fires, which began in late September, intensified since October 7. Wind directions and indicative images show smoke dispersion in southeast direction over eastern Uttar Pradesh and NCR. In Punjab, the fires are concentrated in and around Amritsar, Firozpur, Faridkot and Fatehgarh Sahib districts. In Haryana, they are concentrated around Kaithal, Kurukshetra and Karnal districts.

Satellite image between Oct 9 and 11 shows biomass fires over southern Tamil Nadu, Western Gujarat, parts of Rajasthan, Odisha and West Bengal. Credit: NASA
Satellite image between Oct 9 and 11 shows biomass fires over southern Tamil Nadu, Western Gujarat, parts of Rajasthan, Odisha and West Bengal. Credit: NASA

According to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) study during 2008–09, the stubble burning results in loss of nutrients present in residues. In one year alone, it results in the loss of 1.43 million tonnes of nutrients from the topsoil layer. On top of that, it causes a spike in pollution. A detailed coverage on stubble burning by Down To Earth earlier this year revealed that PM emissions from crop burning in a single year is more than 17 times the total annual PM pollution in Delhi from all sources, including vehicles, industries, garbage burning. For CO2 and SO2, the national annual emission from crop residue burning is more than 64 times and five times higher than the total annual CO2 and SO2 emissions in Delhi.

The source of the problem has long been identified: multiple cropping and shorter intervals between crops, mechanised harvesters leaving stubble of 10–30 cm in the field, shortage of farm labour and lack of market for crop residue.

Thus, the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment argues that imposing fine/penalty farmers is not going to work. Instead, it proposes promotion of agri-implements with subsidy; utilisation of crop-residues fuel in biomass-based power plants, promotion of crop diversification, and research into the design of mechanical harvesters, which will reduce the length of the crop residue that remains on the field.


Popular posts from this blog

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

NGT terminates chairmen of pollution control boards in 10 states (downtoearth,)

Cracking the whip on 10 State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) for ad-hoc appointments, the National Green Tribunal has ordered the termination of Chairpersons of these regulatory authorities. The concerned states are Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Haryana, Maharashtra and Manipur. The order was given last week by the principal bench of the NGT, chaired by Justice Swatanter Kumar.

The recent order of June 8, 2017, comes as a follow-up to an NGT judgment given in August 2016. In that judgment, the NGT had issued directions on appointments of Chairmen and Member Secretaries of the SPCBs, emphasising on crucial roles they have in pollution control and abatement. It then specified required qualifications as well as tenure of the authorities. States were required to act on the orders within three months and frame Rules for appointment [See Box: Highlights of the NGT judgment of 2016 on criteria for SPCB chairperson appointment].

Having fai…

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…