UPSC Current – Centre promises law to check stubble burning

Centre promises law to check stubble burning 

The Centre will bring in a law to address air pollution and check stubble burning in Delhi as well as the surrounding National Capital Region, the Supreme Court was informed by the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, he said a draft legislation would be ready this week.

Recently the SC appointed ex-judge M B Lokur as one-man committee to look into stubble burning

SC asked Environment Pollution Control Authority & chief secretaries of Haryana, Punjab & UP to assist Lokur panel to carry out physical surveillance of fields where stubble is burnt.

Why Stubble Burning?

  • Stubble (parali) burning is the act of setting fire to crop residue to remove them from the field to sow the next crop.
  • In order to plant next winter crop (Rabi crop), farmers in Haryana and Punjab have to move in a very short interval and if they are late, due to short winters these days, they might face considerable losses. Therefore, burning is the cheapest and fastest way to get rid of the stubble.
  • If parali is left in the field, pests like termites may attack the upcoming crop.
  • The precarious economic condition of farmers doesn’t allow them to use expensive mechanised methods to remove stubble.

Causes of the Stubble Burning

Technology: The problem arises due to the use of mechanised harvesting which leaves several inches of stubble in the fields.

Earlier, this excess crop was used by farmers for cooking, as hay to keep their animals warm or even as extra insulation for homes. But, now the stubble use for such purposes has become outdated.

High Silica Content: Rice straw is considered useless as fodder in the case of non-basmati rice, because of its high silica content.

Effects of Stubble Burning

Pollution: Open stubble burning emits large amounts of toxic pollutants in the atmosphere which contain harmful gases like methane (CH4), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile organic compound (VOC) and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

After the release in the atmosphere, these pollutants disperse in the surroundings, may undergo a physical and chemical transformation and eventually adversely affect human health by causing a thick blanket of smog.

Soil Fertility: Burning husk on ground destroys the nutrients in the soil, making it less fertile.

Heat Penetration: Heat generated by stubble burning penetrates into the soil, leading to the loss of moisture and useful microbes.

Wealth From Stubble

  • From parali (stubble), high-grade organic fertilizers can be prepared by mixing with cow dung and few natural enzymes.
  • The total amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and sulphur in the parali burnt annually in Northwest India is about seven lakh tonnes, valued at Rs 1,000 crore.
  • Along with the above mentioned nutrients, organic carbon is also destroyed during stubble burning.
  • These nutrients, if successfully utilized in organic manures, can also reduce the risk of cancer in Punjab by reducing the levels of carcinogens caused by chemical fertilizers in soil.

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