Open House: What should the government do to stop farmers from burning paddy stubble?
Can be used as fuel for power plants
During the month of September and October every year harvesting of paddy starts in this part of the country. Farmers do take their products to mandis, but they are left with huge quantity stubble in their fields. Now, the farmers are to sow the next crop for which very limited period of day 30-40 days is left. Hence, they are in great hurry because if they are delayed in sowing of next crop, they get lower yield which translates in to lower income. So they find burning of the stubble a very quick, cheap and effective way to get rid of the residue lying in the field. Though with the passage of the time farmers came to know that burning of stubble leads to the destruction of the organic matters, which is very good ingredient for the health of the soil. This leads the farmers to increase the input of fertiliser for the next crop thus incurring extra expenditure. The other alternative is to manage the stubble, which is possible with the help of the machines. In this process machines collect the stubble and give it the form of a bale/ bundle. But now cost factor comes in. All farmers can’t afford such machine, though government is giving heavy subsidy on such machine. So, some central government agency, as they procure wheat and paddy, should come in to the picture and through machines quickly take the stubble in packed form and supply it as fuel to power plants or other consumers. This is the only way to get rid of a great source of air pollution.
Engage pvt firms to clear stubble
Since 1991, successive governments at the Centre are pursuing the policy of Globalization, Liberalisation and Privatisation. Latest in this series are farms laws whereby private players have been allowed procurement and marketing of farm products. If the Central Government is so sure of the efficiency of the private players, they should pay to them on fixed rate for clearing the farm fields within a fixed time frame. In this way central and state governments would be saving a lot of money they are paying in form of subsidy to farmers to buy machinery for collecting and making bales of stubble. Farmers get their fields clean with no extra expenditure and no loss to the health of the soil. Power plants and other industries get cheap fuel in the form of stubble. Above all people living in the region getting rid of air pollution.
Long-term planning is need of the hour
Every winter we have to breathe in a polluted smog-filled atmosphere. Stubble burning is one of the factors behind it. Why do farmers resort to stubble burning despite repeated appeals to the contrary? Farmers are a distressed lot with their returns dwindling due to the ever-increasing input costs and unavailability of the remunerative price of their produce. Since there is a little time gap between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of the next crop, they resort to the cheapest and quickest mode of getting rid of the stubble, by burning it. Even the cash incentives announced, therefore, fail to deter farmers from stubble burning. The government must take up as its own responsibility to make available mechanised methods to get rid of the stubble, free of cost, to every farmer every year. Also, the agitating farmers might be in a defiant mood. All efforts, by all those who matter, must be made to find a solution to the ongoing standoff. A long term planning is required to set up infrastructure to convert the stubble into a useful biofuel or biofertiliser besides animal fodder. That could, besides incentivising the farmers, could generate some badly needed jobs too.
Issue strict warning to farmers
Farmers burning stubble are doing an illegal act. To stop farmers from
burning stubble in this winter, the government should issue a strict warning to all farmers to not to burn stubble this winter otherwise face dire consequences of punishment of imprisonment for large no of years and heavy fines. Lastly, the government should increase vigilance in areas where burning of stubble has been reported in the past and prevent it from recurring again.
Clean air demands cost & care
When paddy used to be pesticide-free and was reaped manually, it left very short stubbles which would be ploughed into the soil prepared for the next crop. The straw itself was kept in reserve and used as dry animal-fodder. But now, machine harvesting leaves long stubble which, if ploughed into the soil, needs multiple ploughings. Even then, the plant yield from potatoes and peas suffers. Pests like rats complicate the issue. Stubble burning is no solution because it pollutes the entire area, including the farmer’s home and farm. When one farmer resorts to burning his stubble, others follow suit and the pollution spreads like a mushroom cloud, resulting in more and more cases of bronchitis, asthma. But add to the caseload of tyre burning, garbage-burning and cremating dead bodies using firewood, even when other modes are available, you have defined an ignorant society and a careless government. In conclusion, compensate the farmer if you truly want him to not burn his stubble. But also check garbage burning and ensure efficient use of the Indane gas-crematoriums installed in the city. Clean air demands cost and attention
Prof Mohan Singh
Educate farmers on its bad effects
The burning of straw and stubble of paddy and wheat is a perennial problem. The burning of stubble emits a large amount of pollutants, including toxic gases which are very dangerous to the human beings and the flora and fauna. Residue burning is a more economical and inexpensive as sufficient labour force is required to manually remove the residues. But little do farmers know that this practice of stubble burning has been linked to increased asthma, cough and cold, cancer, allergy, choking of lungs and a myriad of other respiratory problems. Of course, there are some advantages of burning stubble as it kills weeds, slugs and other pests but it should be known that it also results in loss of nutrients, bad impact on soil microbes and reduction in soil structure. Therefore, the government should create awareness among farmers about the negative impact of crop biomass burning and importance of crop residues incorporation in soil for maintaining sustainable agricultural productivity. Harvesters ought to be modified to tackle the root cause of the problem. It should be ensured that stubble burning is dealt in a scientific way. A cost-effective PUSA decomposer, a fungi based liquid solution form a part of a scientific way. The government should educate the farmers about the pernicious consequences of stubble burning rather than imposing huge fines on them or creating rigid statutory policies. It should adopt a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary approach to reduce the dependency on the typical paddy- wheat crop cycle through various initiatives such as boosting crop diversification . It should invest in research and development in agriculture to uplift this neglected sector and strengthen it by empowering the farming community. Policies should be framed so as to procure straw and stubble and to channel it to make biochar and high quality fertiliser. Wielding the stick alone can’t deliver the desired results. A strong political will, combined with sincerity and earnestness is required to solve the knotty problem. The government should give incentives to the farmers to dispose of stubble in any way other than burning.
Tarsem S Bumrah
Promote cultivation of short-duration crops
Before mulling ways of preventing farmers from burning stubble, it would be wise to first list out the reasons that cause them to resort to it. Mechanised harvesting of paddy leaves a taller residue, which takes longer to decompose, leaving farmers with little time to prepare their fields for sowing the wheat crop. On top of that, the leftovers are not suitable to be used as animal fodder. This, coupled with the water conservation laws enacted by Punjab and Haryana to deal with the depletion of the ground water level, often lead to delayed sowing of wheat, leaving farmers with no option but to burn the stubble, regarded as the quickest and cheapest way of preparing their fields for sowing the wheat crop. However, there are solutions that could be considered for implementation to deal with the issue. Besides offering incentives to farmers abstaining from stubble burning, the government could promote cultivation of short-duration crops, while also ensuring availability of reasonably priced, but sophisticated agricultural technology to assist farmers in their sowing and harvesting operations.
Shaheen P Parshad
Smoke is extremely dangerous for lungs
The issue of stubble burning is associated with adverse effects on environment as well as on health. It leads to rise in the level of air pollution due to which numerous ailments relates to respiratory system go up. It aggravates allergies and asthma attacks. Also, this has a pressing affect on the oxygen carrying capacity of the body. Stubble burning makes the soil infertile by destroying its nutrients. Farmers should opt for PUSA-named decomposer made by Indian Agricultural Research Institute, which decomposes the crop residue into manure by exaggerating the decomposition process. Later on, the usage of it reduces the need of fertiliser and enhances the yield of crop. Farmers can convert stubble into biochar, which can be used as a fertiliser in the fields, by burning it in a kiln. Lastly, farmers can replace the long duration varieties into short duration varieties such as PUSA Basmati 1509 and PR-126. These short duration varieties can be harvested almost in the fall of the year. By doing this, farmers can get more time between the end of paddy season and start of wheat season and they can easily eliminate the need of stubble burning as they have enough time to decompose straw.
Air pollution leads to respiratory diseases
Air Pollution impact on Respiratory Diseases. Air pollution poses a major threat to human health. The recent WHO and Global Burden of Disease report, including the ‘Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health’ also links air pollution to 7 million premature deaths globally. Pandemic is one of the biggest public health emergencies that have highlighted focus on environmental protection, particularly from air pollution. And stubble burning is one of the largest contributors to the air pollution. The smoke from stubble burning in Punjab is the main cause of spurt in respiratory diseases. Stubble burning starts when the harvest season comes to an end, this becomes the cause of severe air pollution in the region, especially in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and NCR. But in these Covid pandemic years stubble burning issue is even stronger because of the unattractive central subsidies on machinery for straw burning, being offered to small farmers. So the farmers are not likely to switch over to any alternative to straw burning. A permanent solution to a problem that leads to the air quality dipping to the lowest has to be found. The Centre/ States must look into the Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s (IARI) suggestion of converting stubble to manure using a chemical. The challenge of disposing of agricultural waste in Punjab is significant. According to IARI crop residents are in millions of tons, its generation is highest in UP, followed by Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat and Haryana. Last year Punjab and Haryana provided cash incentives to farmers for managing the residue in alternative ways, but it was announced very late. For any multi-pronged approach to work, there needs to be a coordination between the farmers, states, Centre and scientists, but at present there seems to be a disconnect here and the lack of political will to find a solution. The farmers’ protest has complicated the situation further this year. Any stricter actions against the offenders will be seen as anti-farmers. In view of the Covid infection resulting in respiratory ailments getting aggravated with air pollution, harsher means may have to be adopted to solve the stubble’s burning issue. But there is no doubt that the cooperation of the farmers will go a long way in reducing the impact of air pollution on respiratory diseases.
Imposing fine on farmers no solution
Stubble management is one of the major problems being faced by farmers of Punjab, especially the marginal ones who have less than 1 hectare (2.5 acres) of land. They burn stubble out of compulsion as they have limited resources and a small time-frame (due to sowing of the next crop) to manage the stubble in the fields. Imposing hefty fines on these farmers is a very harsh approach by the government to deal with this situation. Instead, these farmers must be made aware about the Happy Seeders and must be financially supported by the government to handle this issue. Remote Sensing and GIS (Geographical Information System) must be used to locate the areas involved in stubble burning and quick action response teams must be constituted to free these areas from any such malpractice.
Jatinderpal Singh Batth
Stubble can be used to produce bio fuel
- The best way is to get the stubble removed by the local administration itself. The government can hire or purchase machinery that cuts the stubble from the base and this can later on be auctioned for cattle feed or even used as bio mass to produce bio fuel
- There is a huge market for this and it has the potential to replace the non renewable source of energy. There is no point on punishing the offender where the famers have no other choice to other than burn it. A farmer cannot afford to deploy labour to remove and stock up stubble from its earning
- The government has to come forward and complete the work. No one is to blame here, we just need to focus on the right direction. This will help the state make actual Smart Cities where one industry's waste is being valuably used by another industry to produce by products Sukhamrit Singh
The poor condition of city roads has not only been causing great hardships to commuters but also leading to accidents on a daily basis. The authorities have turned a blind eye to the inconvenience faced by the public. What should be done to improve the condition of roads?
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