Whether neighbouring states will be able to implement measures in time, will determine Delhi’s air quality.
Given the high levels of pollution in the national capital last year—PM2.5 levels were 10 times the acceptable limit—the government came up with an action plan that covered not just Delhi but adjoining states as well. Though the graded action plan that was rolled out earlier this year was conspicuously silent on getting neighbouring states to act on crop burning, one of the factors why pollution levels in the capital shoot up in winters, as per the Economic Times, UP, Punjab, and Haryana are looking at a structure of subsidies and incentives along with awareness initiatives to prevent farmers from carrying on with antiquated method of farm waste disposal.
They have asked the Centre for subsidies for procuring equipment that helps in farm waste disposal and financial support for farmers for adopting modern methods of waste management. Such measures, if successful, can yield great success. But that is a big if, as the states had earlier been directed to curb the menace, but failed to make any meaningful impact. In 2009, a high-powered committee, constituted after the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed Punjab to promote modern solutions to the problem of farm waste.
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But Punjab, even after releasing a draft policy, has dragged its feet on implementation so far. On the other hand, Haryana has banned burning straw since September 2013, but has never been able to enforce it. More important, the Centre itself has been party to the problem, as it has delayed payments for the purchase of machines like Happy Seeders to the states. NGT had also passed an order to curb this problem in December 2015. So, while states look prepared to tackle pollution with policy, the question is if they will be able to implement the measures on ground this time.