As the state struggles to implement its ban on stubble burning, Punjab Agricultural University's Centre of Communication and International Linkages (CCIL) has come up with a novel way to discourage people from resorting to the technique.
The centre's assistant director of television and radio Anil Sharma has produced an eight-minute audio drama he has recently released on various social networking websites to create awareness of the ill-effects of burning paddy stubble.
The drama, titled 'Vatavaran bachao, parali na jalalo' (save the environment, do not burn stubble), is in Punjabi and uses song and light background music to augment its narrative, which comprises three artistes, including him, discussing the problem.
Sharma came up with the idea a few months ago and put it before a panel of authorities at the university, who instantly approved it. It took Sharma two weeks to come up with the final product. It certainly seems worth the effort: a few days after its release, the drama already seems to be a hit among internet savvy farmers and agriculture students.
“Stubble burning is a serious concern that being highlighted every year by almost all newspapers and new channels, but all this has failed to solve the problem. Not all farmers are aware of the ill-effects of stubble burning,” he says.
The drama, he says, uses simple conversational Punjabi and opens with a father telling his son to stop the practice of stubble burning. He then explains the various harms of the practice, such as air pollution and health hazards, besides reducing the soil's fertility.
He then goes on to explain the alternate uses of stubble, such using it for mushroom cultivation and as fertilizer.
Appreciating the initiative, Chander Mohan, CCIL's additional director of communication said, “This short Punjabi drama will connect with many farmers and has the power to their mindsets. It can be more effective than bookish and lengthy articles.”
Artistes who lent their voices to Sharma's podcast were Inderjit Saini, a former student of MSc entomology at PAU and Ravinder Ranguwal, a versatile television artiste.
Shrama is also planning to come up with a video drama on the issue which he says will be released by the end of the year.