Stubble burning: Air quality commission asks states to follow protocol developed by ISRO
The CAQM had in December last stressed the need to develop and implement a standard set of methods across NCR and adjoining areas for monitoring fire events.
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) asked Delhi and its neighbouring states to adopt a protocol developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for estimation of crop residue burning fire events. The protocol developed by the ISRO estimates these events using satellite data.
The CAQM asked the governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to develop a time-bound comprehensive action plan in collaboration with stakeholder agencies responsible for monitoring and reporting of events related to agriculture residue burning. The CAQM is responsible for executing plans to prevent and control air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region and adjoining areas.
“In view of the compelling need to monitor and control air pollution from stubble burning, the commission hereby directs the government of NCT of Delhi to ensure adoption and application of the standard protocol for estimation of crop residue burning fire events using satellite data,” the directions read.
The CAQM had in December last stressed the need to develop and implement a standard set of methods across NCR and adjoining areas for monitoring fire events. The protocol was then prepared taking into account suggestions from stakeholder agencies like State Remote Sensing Centres (SRSC) and Indian Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR).
The panel on air quality asked Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Delhi to send a compliance report on the adoption of the protocol by August 30. It also said that the protocol should be adopted uniformly across all states mentioned and not restricted to Punjab and Haryana.
The issue of stubble burning in these states became a major issue during the paddy harvesting season between October 15 and November 15 over the past years due to spikes in air pollution levels in Delhi-NCR. Farmers set their fields on fire to clear them of crop residue left behind after harvesting paddy and before cultivating wheat and potato.
Farmers continue stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana as there is a short time window between paddy harvesting and sowing of wheat. Farmers also cite the high cost of manual or mechanical management of straw as a reason behind their preference to burn stubble.
Despite measures taken by state governments, such as providing 50% to 80% subsidy to farmers and cooperatives to buy modern farm equipment for in-situ management of paddy straw and installing paddy straw-based power plants, farmers still continue to burn stubble, indicating that the measures have failed to make an impact.
A study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), highlighted that a relatively ‘longer stubble-burning period and unfavourable meteorological conditions’ were factors behind Delhi’s poor air quality last winter. It also showed that the contribution of stubble burning to the PM2.5 levels in Delhi exceeded 30% between October 10 and November 25 last year compared to three days in 2019.