Opinion:A struggle to breathe

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Stubble Burning: UPSC IAS

Every year the National Capital Region’s pollution levels make it to the headlines for stubble burning.

Background

  • Stubble burning became a rampant practice during the Green revolution period when mass production of paddy was enabled in the plains of Punjab and Haryana.
  • Central government constituted the EPCA way back in 1998 in compliance to a Supreme Court order for protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution.
  • As per the recent World Health Organization (WHO) 2018 pollution report, the Indian capital is among the world’s most polluted cities.

About Stubble Burning:

  • Stubble burning refers to the use of a controlled fire to clear the crop residue that remains in the paddock after harvest and could more accurately be called ‘crop residue burning’.
  • Stubble burning results in emission of harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide along with particulate matter.
  • However, according to the author, reducing pollution is not on the agenda of any political party. In this aspect, what needs to be understood from this article is that the author has given several measures that can be undertaken to reduce pollution.
  • The economic loss for India in the last five years due to the exposure to crop burning is about 1.7% of the country’s GDP. Annually, this exposure to pollution costs Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab around ₹2 lakh crore.

Alternative solutions that can avoid Stubble Burning:

There is a need to find alternatives to stubble burning and impose strict sanctions in case of contravention of any ban on the practice; impose a blanket ban on firecrackers; impose a blanket ban on all vehicles exceeding prescribed tailgate emission standards; legislate stricter norms for fuels; open toll roads where trucks should be excluded and high-occupancy vehicles exempted from the toll; provide separate bus lanes to reduce congestion; create a separate fund in the Budget to specifically deal with this crisis; provide agricultural subsidies to farmers to disincentivises crop burning; improve the drainage system; and incentivise the use of renewable energy.

Source: The Hindu

Probable Question:

Consider the following statements with regards to Stubble Burning

I. It is a post-harvest practice used to clear fields of paddy crop residue by burning them.

II. This practice mostly carried out in Punjab, Haryana, and UP contributes solely to the grave winter pollution in the national capital.

III. It releases toxic pollutants like Methane, Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile organic compound (VOC) in air.

IV. EPCA has rolled out the Graded Response Action Plan which includes efforts like banning construction activities, diesel generators, etc.

Which of the following statement’s is/are true?

A. I and II

B. I, II and III

C. I, II and IV

D. All of these

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