NEW DELHI: With the stubble burning season beginning from November, authorities are worried regarding air pollution as its gravity depends on cooperation of neighbouring states. Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is expected to start around September 20 which mostly goes up to November end.
The Central environment ministry has alerted the agencies and stakeholders concerned of preparing in all the northern states. Last year, the Aam Aadmi Party government tried its unique eco-friendly method — -a bio-decomposer spray — developed with the help of Pusa Institute. Started on a pilot project basis, the Delhi government advocated its use to Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh but it did not generate enough interest.
The Delhi government mantains that stubble burning is rampant mainly in other states. “Finding solution to the pollution caused due to stubble burning is definitely a priority for us. In Delhi, there are not many such incidents. Last year, we did not observe any such trend,” said Sanjeev Khirwar, Secretary, Delhi Pollution Control Committee ( DPCC).
The Assembly elections slated to be held just in the beginning of next year in the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh has only added to the worries of Delhi authorities. The officials argue that these poll-bound states many not see incumbent governments take strict action on farmers for stubble burning as it could cost the ruling political parties dearly in these elections.
According to the Delhi government, it has taken many steps in the last six years to reduce air pollution. Some of these measures include the installation of anti-smog guns at 56 sites that are under construction with a build-up area of more than 20,000 sqm. Also, the process of setting up smog towers at Anand Vihar and Connaught Place is underway.
The AAP government has also begun the ‘Switch Delhi campaign, under which government subsidizes the purchase of electric vehicles in the city. But all these efforts, the officials fear, could come to naught if the neighbouring states
Cheap but comes at a cost
As the name suggests, stubble burning involves the practice of intentionally setting fire to the straw stubble of paddy and wheat after harvest season. The technique was widespread until the 1990s. One of the main reasons for farmers resorting to this ancient practice is that it is easier and cheaper than other existing methods.