The Punjab government ran a long campaign to create awareness among farmers about better management as well as mixing Stubble or Parali in the fields instead of burning.
- There is a complete ban on stubble burning in the state, yet the cases of stubble burning are increasing day by day.
- Within five days of the start of the paddy harvesting season, the paddy burning incident number has reached 654, out of which the maximum incidents have been reported from the border district of Amritsar.
- Tarn Taran, Kapurthala, Patiala, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar and Jalandhar districts also reported such fire incidents.
- According to sources, the lack of strict action by authorities in various districts is one of the main reasons for the continuous increase in the incidents of stubble burning. The air quality index has also started deteriorating after stubble burning.
What is Stubble Burning?
Stubble burning is setting fire to the straw stubble that remains after harvesting grains such as paddy and wheat.
- This practice, known as parali burning in India, is carried out to clear fields of paddy crop residues in preparation for sowing wheat.
- It typically takes place in October and November, mainly in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
Effects of Stubble Burning
The burning of stubble releases harmful gases, including Methane (CH4), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), which can cause serious damage to the environment.
- These pollutants can disperse into the surrounding area, forming a thick blanket of smog that can adversely affect air quality and human health. In Delhi, this is one of the main causes of air pollution.
- Furthermore, burning residues can lead to soil temperature increase, which can kill beneficial soil organisms.
- Repeated burning can result in the loss of microbial population and lower levels of Nitrogen and Carbon, which are essential for crop root development.
- The resultant air pollution can cause a range of health problems, from skin irritations to severe neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory issues. Researchers have found that exposure to pollution can also hurt mortality rates, with Delhi residents' life expectancy decreasing by approximately 6.4 years due to high pollution levels.
Alternatives to Stubble Burning
- The Indian Agriculture Research Institute has developed a solution to stubble burning in the form of a bio-enzyme called PUSA. When sprayed, this enzyme decomposes stubble within 20-25 days, transforming it into manure that enhances soil quality. Additionally, it increases organic carbon levels and soil health while reducing expenses for fertilisers in the next cropping cycle.
- Paddy straw can be converted into pellets and dried, then mixed with coal for fuel in thermal power plants and industries. This process can reduce carbon emissions and save coal.
- Instead of burning stubble, a tractor-mounted machine called the Happy Seeder can be used. This machine cuts rice straw, sows wheat into bare soil, and deposits straw as mulch.
- The Chhattisgarh government has undertaken an innovative experiment called the Chhattisgarh Innovative Model. This model involves setting up gauthans, which are five-acre plots owned by each village. Unused stubble or parali is collected through parali daan (people's donations) and mixed with cow dung and natural enzymes to create organic fertiliser.
- Stubble can be used in various ways, such as cattle feed, compost manure, roofing in rural areas, packing materials, preparing papers, and preparing bioethanol.