Rice fields are ready to be harvested but the problem is that after harvesting farmers will set fire to clear the stubble. Despite ban on stubble burning, farmers have continued burning stubble in their fields. Farmers in Punjab and Haryana said that there was no affordable alternative to stubble burning. Supreme Court has banned cracker sale this Diwali, offering a partial relief, stubble burning in farms of Punjab and Haryana continues unabated, despite repeated bans by courts and the National Green Tribunal.
The smoke of the stubble burning made Delhi one of the most polluted city in the world. Last year, the haze in Delhi after Diwali was reputedly worse than the great smog of London in 1952. If a farmer is caught burning his farm, a fine of Rs 2,500 per acre can be levied. But this is a small price as compared to the cost of alternative equipment.
Labour in Punjab is scarce and expensive, costing a minimum Rs 350-400 per day. A farmer would require at least 10 labourers to clear a one-acre farm. It’s cheaper to become an arsonist as dry grass instantly goes up in flames and within a couple of hours, carbon is all that remains.
The National Green Tribunal and the courts have taken notice and announced a slew of measures to keep Delhi’s air from getting worse. The NGT passed an order against stubble burning, while the Supreme Court banned the sale of crackers in the National Capital Region.
However,Farmers have a 20-day window between kharif harvest and rabi planting. During this time, they have to clear the fields and ready them for the winter wheat crop. And although farmers in Punjab are generally more prosperous than rest of India, the input costs are very high because agriculture here is highly mechanised. There is little margin — in terms of time or money — to worry about air pollution.
For more news updates Follow and Like us on Facebook