- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Issues related to stubble burning
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: What is stubble burning, concerns associated, why is it practised and what needs to be done to contain its practice?
Context: Only educating farmers about the monetary costs of burning stubble can address the environmental crisis triggered every year in Punjab, says a team of Swiss and Indian researchers who interviewed 600 farmers over two years.
- According to the team, the government’s efforts — earmarking funds for specialised farming equipment (for straw management) or enforcing the state-led ban on the practice — are unlikely to solve the problem.
- Farmer cooperative groups — a key link between government and farmers — ought to be playing a more active role in educating farmers.
What is stubble burning?
Stubble burning is a common practice followed by farmers in the neighboring states Haryana and Punjab to prepare fields for sowing of wheat in November as there is little time left between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.
Stubble burning results in emission of harmful gases such carbon diaoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide along with particulate matter.
Advantages of stubble burning:
- It quickly clears the field and is the cheapest alternative.
- Kills weeds, including those resistant to herbicide.
- Kills slugs and other pests.
- Can reduce nitrogen tie-up.
What’s the issue?
Stubble burning is adversely affecting environment and public health. The problem has not been fully tackled and the adverse impacts on the air quality and consequent impacts on the citizens’ health and lives are undisputed.
What needs to be done- Supreme Court’s observations?
- The problem is required to be resolved by taking all such measures as are possible in the interest of public health and environment protection.
- Incentives could be provided to those who are not burning the stubble and disincentives for those who continue the practice.
- The existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) Scheme must be so interpreted as to enable the States concerned to wholly or partly deny the benefit of MSP to those who continue to burn the crop residue.
- Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has also been directed to be present to “find a lasting solution.”
- The Central government should convene a meeting with the States.
Mains Question: Bans and fines can’t stop stubble burning. Do you agree. Also discuss how the issue should be handled.