Air Pollution

To check stubble burning, monitor policy implementation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Impact of stubble burning

Mains level : Paper 3- Measures to stop stubble burning

Context

Every October and November, parts of north India are engulfed by a dense fog. Farmers resort to the practice due to the limited time they have between the harvesting of kharif paddy and sowing of the rabi wheat.

Government initiatives to stop the stubble burning

  • Policy measures: In 2014, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare developed a National Policy for the Management of Crop Residue.
  • Ban by NGT: In 2015, the National Green Tribunal banned stubble burning in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab.
  • Weak enforcement: The enforcement of the ban has, however, been weak, largely due to inadequate political will.
  • Legal measures: Stubble burning was considered an offence under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and in the Air and Pollution Control Act, 1981.
  • However, it has now been decriminalised as per a recent government announcement.
  • The Central Scheme on Promotion of Agricultural Mechanisation for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue was introduced in 2018-19.
  • Over 1.5 lakh crop residue management machineries have been supplied to farmers and custom hiring centres between 2018-19 to 2020-21.

How successful were the measures?

  • As a result of these efforts, the number of crop residue burning events declined from 2016 to 2019.
  • This year satellite data did show an almost 50 per cent decline in the number of stubble burning events in Punjab, Haryana and UP in October.
  • However, after including burning events till November 21, the decline reduced to about 8 per cent.
  • Experts suggest that the respite in October was temporary as the initial decline can be attributed to the delayed withdrawal of monsoon.
  • It is thus evident that despite various government initiatives, substantial stubble burning continues in several states.

Suggestions

  • Subsidise operational cost for crop residue management: To ease farmers’ financial burden, the government could consider subsidising operational costs along with providing farmers capital subsidy on crop residue management equipment.
  • Ex-situ management of crop residue: Ex-situ management of crop residue can also be explored under the schemes covering products such as bales and pellets for biomass power generation and supplementary feedstock in coal-fired power plants.
  • Awareness generation: Awareness generation and trust building exercises should be undertaken with the support of local civil society organisations.
  • Adopt targeted and cluster-based approach: Stubble burning is fairly concentrated in regions within states.
  • A targeted and cluster-based approach can be undertaken by identifying districts with a higher number of stubble burning incidents.
  • Central and state government interventions can then be concentrated in these districts.
  • Monitoring system at local level: To make these interventions effective, there is a requirement for formulating a robust monitoring system at the local level to track the progress of different activities.

Consider the question “Stubble burning by farmers of the adjacent states contributes significantly to the air pollution in Delhi. In this context, examine the initiatives taken by the government to deal with the problem and suggest the way forward.”

Conclusion

Dealing with the practice of stubble burning requires efforts on multiple levels. A combination of these measures can complement the existing initiatives to encourage farmers to adopt zero stubble burning practices.

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