air pollution problem through stubble burning in Delhi India, Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Stubble Burning and Air Pollution in Delhi

Hello everyone!

We had many questions about this theme, like What is Stubble? What is stubble burning? Why are these stubbles being burnt? What are the effects of burning stubble? What we can do as citizens? What are the other causes of pollution in Delhi? Why is the government not taking steps against it?

To get the answers of all these questions, we met a scientist at National Agricultural Research Institute (iari.res.in). She was in her mid 50s, a humble lady who answered all the questions very expressively. We learnt many things from her. So these were the answers given by her for these questions.

Q1. What is Stubble?

Stubble is the cut stalks of cereal plants left sticking out of the ground after the grain is harvested.

Q2.What is stubble burning?

stubble flames
Stubble burning flames

After harvesting, some part of the stem of crop is left in the field along with straw. It needs a lot of time and labour to remove this. So, it is simply set on fire which is called stubble burning.

Q3. Why are these stubbles burnt?

This stubble is burnt to make the fields ready for cultivation of next crop. As in case of neighbouring states of Delhi, i.e. Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, these stubbles are burnt mainly after harvesting rice because there is only an interval of 15 to 20 days for the cultivation of wheat. Removal of this stubble takes a long time and availability of labour is less. So, the most convenient way that farmer chooses to burn them.

Q4. What are the effects of burning stubble?

The effects of burning stubble are as follows:

  • Many greenhouse gases like Methane, Carbon Dioxide, Oxides of Nitrogen, etc. are emitted in the atmosphere.
  • Suspended particulate matter (SPM) is like PM 2.5, PM10 are released.
  • Soot is released due to stubble burning.
  • Many toxic gases like carbon monoxide, ammonia, nitric oxide, etc. are also released in the atmosphere.

Q5. What we can do as citizens?

We as citizens can only spread awareness and ask the farmers not to burn the stubble.

Q6. What are the other causes of pollution in Delhi?

Other causes of pollution in Delhi includes the pollution caused due to the constructional activities, industrial pollution, increasing use of vehicles and burning of fossil fuels, burning of crackers, etc.

Q7. Why is government not taking steps against it?

The government is taking various steps:-

  • It is providing machines like Combined harvester with chopper, Happy seeder, Turbo seeder, and many other machineries at concessional rates.
  • It has approved a Rs. 1,151 crore schemes in March to promote stubble management through cutting and spreading stubble on the field or incorporating the soil as opposed to burning.
  • It is also working on projects which include power generation, Bio ethanol-2nd generation, Bio CNG and briquetting using the stubble generated.

Experience

When we started our research then at that time there as a lot of pollution in Delhi and the reason given for that by the locals was that most of the pollution is caused due the stubble burning which made us curious to know more about this topic and we chose it as our topic and got to know a lot about this topic.

Reflection

By doing this project we got to know what stubble is, what stubble burning is and its ill effects. We got to know that the reasons for stubble burning and why farmers are practicing it and why aren’t they using any other alternative and stick to stubble burning.

Before this project we felt that a lot of pollution is caused and still government is not taking steps against it but after an interaction with experts at  International Agricultural Research Institute then we felt that government is also trying its best by taking several steps like providing machines like Combined harvester with chopper, Happy seeder, Turbo seeder, and many other machineries at concessional rates,etc. We got to know that pollution in Delhi is not just the result of stubble burning and there are many factors which are responsible other than burning of stubble. We understood what we can do as a citizens to control pollution in our city.

Conclusion

Thus, through this project, we got to know so much about stubble burning and its effects. We got to know about stubble burning and its effects and also got to know about Delhi’s pollution.

Authors: Arnav Gupta and Yashvardhan
Reviewed by: Praveena Venugopalan

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