Every year around mid-October, the air in Delhi and the surrounding area is engulfed in thick, hazy layers of smoke that make it difficult to tell the difference between morning and evening. The toxic environment is dangerous for all ages. People rarely enjoy the winter sun in the capital, and the reason for the abysmal air is stubble burning.
Stubble burning has been an integral problem that does not appear to be on the way to being resolved, let alone reaching it. Stubble burning is a problem that not only makes someone guilty, but also poses a collective crime against the environment. It is believed that the best way to solve a problem is to understand it first, and this article aims to do just that. So, let’s take a look at this dismal act that drowns cities in smoke every year.
What is stubble burning?
Wheat and paddy are the most common crops in agricultural states, such as Punjab and Haryana. Previously, farmers harvested manually. However, with the Green Revolution, the use of machines was promoted, which resulted in the use of Reapers and Mockers. The harvester only cuts the crown of the crop. The crown is the top part which contains wheat and rice. As a result, much of the crop is left behind and is known as stubble, which includes the stems and root pods.
How did the stubble burning begin?
The groundwater level in the agricultural states of Punjab and Haryana has fallen very low due to the existence of high-yielding crops, which require three times the water required for regular cultivation. The use of high yielding crops is also the result of the green revolution. As a result, groundwater began to drop to dangerously low levels. To counter the problem, the government of the two states passed a law called “Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act” in 2009.
According to this, the farmers were ordered to cultivate their crops in June instead of May, so that a significant part of the water comes from the monsoon rains. This would help preserve groundwater. Paddy cultivation takes more than four months, after which the wheat growing season begins. Due to the law passed in 2009, the time between the paddy harvest and the seedling leaf has been shortened. And the only way to deal with that short period of time was to burn off the residue.
Due to the low availability to grow thatch into something useful, the most suitable way that farmers find is to burn the thatch. The composition of thatch contains a large amount of silica, which makes it a very poor fodder. Therefore, feeding it to cattle is not an option. Transporting the thatch to various places where it can be useful is also not feasible as it requires additional capital and time to be executed.
A clear vision could be in sight
Stubble burning contributes to a plethora of environmental health issues. The authorities have found solutions by subsidizing the resources used to cultivate stubble, for example the happy seeder tractor, which cuts the stubble and plants the wheat seeds simultaneously, or the straw baler, which makes compact bales from stubble. and straw. However, these resources entering into traditional agricultural practice will take their time due to a lack of capital and farmers’ awareness.
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