Pollution bubbles from Stubble

Last week while coming back from Yamuna Nagar to Delhi on the way from Karnal National Highway to Delhi, I along with my colleague Arnab, saw mounds of Fire on the agriculture fields almost every half a kilometre. Our driver concurred, that it was stubble, which was being burnt. We counted up to 7-8 such mounds, before getting into the possible effects of it, especially on Delhiites-even odd for vehicles, schools getting shut for few days, work from home for employees and so on. The list included almost everything, which we had experienced or heard of in the last few years. The story is not going to be any different this year either.


As I was reading the newspaper today morning, it seemed like a deja vu. It is reported in the Times of India that people in the city have started thronging hospitals, expressing concerns about respiratory issues, which could be linked to the deteriorating air conditions in Delhi as winter sets in.

Further, the news reports inform that this year, in just about a month, the farms in Haryana have seen almost four times as many cases of paddy stubble burning compared to the same time last year. Between September 15 and October 12 this year, there were 345 cases of stubble burning, while there were only 87 such cases during the same time last year in 2022. 

Despite state governments taking substantial steps like the Crop Residue Management scheme, the challenge of nipping stubble burning remains. Farmers’ representative bodies point out various gaps, and major amongst them is financial impracticality. Processing crop residue by creating bales amounts to Rs 5,000 per acre, but the government's current compensation is merely Rs 1,000. This variation could be one of the major reasons why farmers still prefer stubble burning. Unless this is resolved, the story is going to unfold in a similar manner, every year.

Further, stubble burning affects children in a lot more ways than, it is usually discussed. It makes the air very dirty with tiny particles and harmful gases, which can lead to breathing problems and make asthma worse for children. They might cough a lot, have trouble breathing, or even get bronchitis. Breathing in the smoky air for a long time can make their lungs not work as well and make them more likely to get sick. This can cause even more health issues in kids, like heart problems, troubles with growing up, and just feeling unwell. 

Sometimes, because of stubble burning, it's tough to see and breathe outside, and schools might have to close. That means kids can't go to school like they usually do, which can be a big problem for their learning. Stubble burning can also hurt the money families make from farming, making life harder for kids and their families. So, stubble burning isn't good for kids and can cause many problems for their health, education, and families.

In conclusion, addressing stubble burning requires collective efforts. Encouraging farmers to adopt sustainable practices, providing adequate financial incentives for residue management, and raising awareness about the harmful impacts on the environment and public health are essential steps. By working together, we can reduce this harmful practice and promote a healthier, cleaner future for all.

Written By:

Akhilesh Kumar Bakshi

Akhilesh has been engaged in social development and humanitarian action for more than a decade in project implementation and MEAL capacities. He has worked on projects covering Agriculture, Education, Women Empowerment, Decentralized Governance (73rd and 74th Amendment in the Indian Constitution), Gender, Family Planning, Disaster Risk Reduction, Humanitarian Action, and Low Carbon Farming to address climate change. He has extensively worked on projects in most of the Indian states, and conducted FCDO consortium project evaluation in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh (Rohingya Refugee Crisis). He is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai (India) and Manipal University (Manipal, Karnataka). He is a multilingual poet with two published anthologies Dil Ke Massle Hain and Khayalon Ki Munder Se.

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