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Stubble Burning: Regional malpractice with global impact

“Haryana burnt its thickest bundle of straw this year.” said the reports. Forest fires, pollution, loss of soil nutrients are among the many harmful effects of stubble burning.

On December 10, 2015, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned crop residue burning in the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab. But according to an estimate, 20 million tonnes of rice stubble is produced every year in Punjab alone, 80 per cent of which is burnt. A study estimates that crop residue burning releases 149.24 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and 9 million tonnes of carbon monoxide. These contribute to environmental pollution, smog, and melting of glaciers. Apart from this, stubble burning leads to the loss of friendly pests present in the soil’s top layer as the heat from the burning paddy can penetrate 1 cm into the soil. Moreover, health problems caused by it cannot be ignored. According to a report released by the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru, people in rural Punjab spend Rs7.6 crores every year on treatment for ailments caused by stubble burning. What can be done but isn’t being?

What can be done but isn’t being?

In 2014, the Union government released the National Policy for Management of Crop Residue, which tells the alternative ways to deal and decompose the farm straw.

Peasants can also use-

  • Happy Seeder- used to sow crops in standing stubble.
  • Rotavators- used for land preparation and incorporation of crop stubble in soil.
  • Zero Till Seed Drill- used for land preparation by directly sowing seeds in the previous crop stubble.
  • Paddy Straw Chopper- used for cutting paddy stubble for easy mixing into the soil.

And many more such machines and ways are available but why they aren’t used widely?

Maybe because of the lack of subsidies or knowledge or just because of resistance to a change.

Should we, the city dwellers, be worried about this? Yes, because this rural malpractice has global implications.

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