Stubble burning: Environment ministers of Delhi, 4 neighbouring states to meet on Oct 1

By: |
September 29, 2020 4:03 PM

Despite a ban on stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, farmers continue to defy it as there is a short window between harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.

Stubble burning has started in Haryana and Punjab, which contributes significantly to the rise in pollution levels in Delhi and the National Capital Region.The daily fire counts are still less than 1,500.

The Environment Ministers of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will meet on October 1 to discuss and tackle the problem of stubble-burning which causes pollution every year, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday.

The virtual meeting will also be attended by the environment secretaries of Delhi and the four neighbouring states along with the members of the pollution control boards and corporations like the NDMC and the DDA, he said.

The Union Environment Minister told a press conference here that meeting will review the work done by the states in the last two years to handle the issue of crop residue burning.

“At the onset of winter in Delhi, which is October 15 onwards, stubble burning commences and causes pollution throughout the winter season,” he said.

“This is not just confined to Delhi, but an air shade which extends to the NCR cities, places in Haryana, UP, Punjab and Rajasthan. Everyone bears the brunt of this air shade. So with the cooperation of all these five states we started tackling this issue in 2016,” he added.

“For this cause, a virtual meeting of the environment ministers of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will be held on October 1. Besides the environment ministers, the meeting will be attended by state environment secretaries, pollution control board members and municipal corporations, DDA and NDMC,” Javadekar told the media.

“In 2016, the PM launched the National Air Quality Index (NAQI). We believe that acceptance of a problem is the beginning of its solution. So, this is a significant meeting. I am confident everyone will participate in the meeting,” he said.

Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan attract attention during the paddy harvesting season between October 15 and November 15.

Farmers set their crop residue on fire to quickly clear off their fields after harvesting and before cultivating wheat and potato. It is one of the main reasons for the alarming spike in pollution levels in Delhi-NCR during the winter season.

Last year, Punjab produced around 20 million tonnes paddy residue and the farmers there burnt 9.8 million tonnes of it. The farmers in Haryana burnt 1.23 million tonnes out of the 7 million tonnes of paddy residue.

Despite a ban on stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, farmers continue to defy it as there is a short window between harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.

The minister also told the press conference that the meeting will review the action taken by states in the last two years.

“First, we will review the short term plan, medium and long term plans made in 2016. CPCB’s 50 teams visit spots and assess the situations October 15 onwards every year. The meeting will review their work in the last two years. A review of the work done by the states will also be done,” he said.

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