- Conservation and pollution related issues.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Crop burning- why, concerns, effects on environment and health, their regulation and the need for a comprehensive policy on this.
Context: As many as eight districts in Punjab and three in Haryana have been identified as contributing around 62% of the total crop burning emission, as per an analysis done by a team of experts at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D).
What is stubble burning?
Stubble burning is a common practice followed by farmers to prepare fields for sowing of wheat in November as there is little time left between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.
Impact: Stubble burning results in emission of harmful gases such carbon diaoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide along with particulate matter.
Why farmers opt for stubble burning?
- They do not have alternativesfor utilising them effectively.
- The farmers are ill-equipped to deal with waste because they cannot afford the new technology that is available to handle the waste material.
- With less income due to crop damage, farmers are likely to be inclined to light up their fields to cut costs and not spend on scientific ways of stubble management.
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.
Alternative solutions that can avoid Stubble Burning:
- Promote paddy straw-based power plants. It will also create employment opportunities.
- Incorporation of crop residues in the soil can improve soil moisture and help activate the growth of soil microorganisms for better plant growth.
- Convert the removed residues into enriched organic manure through composting.
- New opportunities for industrial use such as extraction of yeast protein can be explored through scientific research.
Need of the hour:
Unless Financial assistance is to be provided by the Centre for boosting farm mechanisation, it is difficult to completely stop stubble burning.
States needs to make alternative arrangements for consumption of paddy straw into the soil as per the directions of the NGT.
What needs to be done- Supreme Court’s observations?
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.
The Central government should convene a meeting with the States.
Sources: the Hindu.