The Central Pollution Control board (CPCB) on Sunday convened a meeting of all member secretaries to devise an action plan to “effectively” and “strictly” monitor any incidence of burning of crop stubble in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
The phenomenon, which impacts the whole of north India can be substantially reduced, if not stopped, only if states coordinate better with each other, say experts.
“This phenomenon begins to appear from around the second week of October. Despite a ban on burning wheat and paddy residue, farmers have been found flouting the norm. The respective authorities even send notices but to no avail. Hence, every state has been asked to heighten its vigil,” said an official who was present at the CPCB meeting. He spoke on condition of anonymity.
According to environmentalists, the annual problem can be curbed if state governments offer greater incentives and conducive infrastructure to farmers. “Farmers are flouting the norm because they do not have any incentive to buy the new technology. Like the Punjab and Haryana governments, others too should offer subsidies to farmers to procure rotavators,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
According to IIT Kanpur’s ‘Source Appoint Study’ report, stubble burning coupled with biomass, garbage and leaf burning constitutes 30% of pollution from secondary particulate or particles that form in the atmosphere from other gaseous pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds.
Concerned with the issue, the Delhi high court on Thursday directed resident commissioners of four neighbouring states to file their responses on the action plans. Explaining the technology available, Roy Chowdhury said, “The machines available make use of the straw rather than burning them. Straw is turned into pellets or is used as construction material or is used to generate power.