Ordinance to monitor air quality in Delhi and adjoining areas

President has promulgated an ordinance related to monitoring of air quality and causes of air pollution such as stubble burning. It is going to set up a commission to monitor and eliminate the issue of air pollution. The Supreme Court decided to put on hold the order to appoint former SC judge justice Madan B. Lokur to a one man committee to monitor stubble burning in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. The decision came after the centre informed the SC that it proposed a legislation to tackle the issue of stubble burning.

What is Stubble burning and why farmers do it?

It is the burning of the straw stubble that continues to be left after grains (paddy, wheat etc.) that are harvested. Paddy residue left by (mechanised) harvesters takes one and half months to decompose while farmers don’t have enough time to sow their next crop, wheat. In this case, the stubble burning is a quick as well as cheap way to prepare soil bed for wheat. Punjab and Haryana both the states have the laws to protect the rapidly shrinking groundwater level (water conservation measures) that leads to force the farmers to delay sowing and transplantation of paddy. This delayed sowing of paddy led to delayed harvesting and farmers left with very little time to prepare soil bed for next crop (wheat), which forces farmers to burn the paddy residues in the field.

Effects of Stubble burning

  • The loss of nutrients.
  • The emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) that contributes to the global warming.
  • Increased levels of particulate matter (PM) and smog that cause health hazards.
  • Loss of biodiversity of agricultural land.
  • The deterioration of soil fertility.

Solutions and alternatives to stubble burning

  • To advance the paddy transplantations that would give sufficient time for the preparation of the soil bed for the next crop, wheat.
  • To promote the short-duration crops like basmati that has a maturity period of 85-90 days.
  • To restore the diversified cropping pattern.
  • To adopt technology that avoids the stubble burning such as direct seeding of wheat without removing paddy stubble or, a straw-decomposing technology.
  • To encourage the alternate use of the paddy stubble such as making paper and packing materials or generating energy.

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