In a move that could offer some much-needed relief to residents of Delhi-NCR battling air pollution, especially during winters, the Narendra Modi-led government has approved a plan to the tune of Rs 1,151 crore to tackle stubble burning, seen as one of the major reasons behind the menace. The proposed scheme is aimed at helping farmers in managing crop residue that eventually leads to stubble burning and results in raising air pollution levels. The scheme proposes in-situ crop residue management, meaning that the government will facilitate stubble management in the farm itself. The scheme is likely to be carried out in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh along with Delhi, reported The TImes Of India.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs has been tasked with promoting agricultural mechanisation for the next two years, reports said, adding that the fund approved by the Centre will be used for establishment of ‘Farm Machinery Banks’. The body will provide for the custom hiring of in-situ crop residue management machinery. To ensure the success of the scheme, the government will not only assist individual farmers, cooperative societies and farmer producer organisations but also train the Self Help Groups (SHGs), private entrepreneurs and registered groups of women farmers.
The machinery required for in-situ management of the crop residue will be subsidised by the government. Out of the Rs 1,151 crore fund approved, Rs 591 crore will be spent in next fiscal (April 2018-19) while the rest amount (Rs 560 crore) will be used for assisting the stakeholders in 2019-20.
Notably, last year, during the peak pollution period program director of Safar (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research), under the Earth Sciences Ministry, Beig, has said that crop fire’s role in causing air pollution in Delhi rose from almost zero on 1 November to a peak of 70 percent on 6 November. Further more, according to a research by Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali, crop burning in Punjab and Haryana is enhancing concentrations of toxic gases which lead to heightened risk cancer, kidney damage, cataracts and rheumatoid arthritis and the high levels of these can have dire effects.
Earlier, in February this year, the Centre prepared dedicated air pollution abatement programmes which it will launch in around 100 cities. The aim being the move is to reduce pollution level by 35 per cent in the selected areas within the next three years. The Centre is also working with the state governments to check the alarming levels of pollution in the country under National Clean Air Programme.