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Opinion » Editorials

Posted at: Nov 11, 2017, 12:54 AM; last updated: Nov 11, 2017, 12:54 AM (IST)

All foul air, no action

Will every stakeholder start doing his bit?
All foul air, no action
ANY government, state or Centre, speaking right now on measures to be taken to fight the smog, or blaming anyone for its occurrence, is cheating people. That is because the situation was no different the last winter, or the winter before that. Everyone seems to know the causes — it is a long list from the Middle-East weather systems to Delhi’s hot-mix plants. Depending on who is speaking, and where the speaker is located, the extent of blame on a particular cause varies. But every stakeholder needs to answer as to what has been done specifically towards addressing the challenges under his purview over the past few years.

Debate on the specific contribution of particular pollutants is of little value when we have not conducted any comprehensive scientific study on the issue. Anecdotal and whimsical explanations and solutions are being offered, all of which seem to put the blame on the neighbour. The only way to even begin clearing up our air is to tackle every pollutant. In the larger region, smoke from farm waste burning seems to be the single largest cause, and has attracted the most media and political attention. There is a cost involved in managing it in an environment friendly manner. But in a farm economy which is entirely controlled from input costs to sale price, it will be irresponsible to blame farmers. The Central government has to be the anchor for any initiative, as it is also the primary driver of the crop choices through its price incentives designed to serve the national food policy.

Solutions to the stubble burning problem are available, and there are also certain funds available under various Central and state schemes. But these need to be brought together to make a concerted effort in conjunction with the farmers. States as well as the Central government have to take responsibility for that. There will still be certain financing requirements, and those the Centre cannot refuse to meet. It is a trade-off between the cost of food and health, and neither can be neglected.

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