DMPQ- . Discuss the necessary measures to deal with air pollution caused by stubble burning.

Currently, paddy cultivation is in full swing in the Indo-Gangetic plains, which cover the Indian States of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. The same farmers who are toiling hard to bring food to our plates will soon engage in the highly unhealthy practice of stubble burning, a common sight in Indian paddy waste management. Though cheaper and faster in the interim, stubble burning is incredibly unsustainable for the environment – it fills the air with soot, dispels nutrients out of the soil, and leads to several other ecological complications.

Stubble burning a significant contributor to atmospheric pollution, coming in 3rd after industrial and vehicular emissions. In Asian countries such as China, around 60 per cent of total biomass emissions come from stubble burning. At the same time, globally, it constitutes about one-fourth of the total biomass burning (inclusive of forest fires). The awful haze surrounding India’s national capital region has been directly linked to stubble burning, coinciding with burning periods in October-November. Several health effects have been noticed that arise from the resultant air pollution, ranging from skin and eyes irritation to severe neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory diseases. Prolonged exposure to high pollution also leads to an increase in mortality rates – as per research, the life expectancy of Delhi inhabitants has decreased by about 6.4 years due to their exposure to high levels of pollution.

The Indian Agriculture Research Institute has devised a radical solution for stubble burning in the form of a bio-enzyme called PUSA. When sprayed, this enzyme decomposes the stubble in 20-25 days, turning it into manure, further improving the soil quality. It leads to an increase in organic carbon and soil health while significantly reducing the fertiliser expense for the next cropping cycle. Being a sustainable agriculture practice, it also cuts back on the emission of greenhouse gases and prevents the release of toxins and soot into the air. When practised over a while, it considerably increases the soil’s nutrient health and microbial activity, both of which ensure better yield at reduced input costs for the farmers as well as organic produce for the consumers.

Stubble burning is one of the many ramifications of the green revolution. It is time to correct it and give our farmers a new and sustainable impetus: A Smart Revolution! Technology will be the primary enabler here, helping to scale reach and extend the benefits of a shared economy to the farmers. With digitisation, shared public-private ownership, and a commitment to enabling sustainable practices and outcomes, we can seed the benefits of sustainable agriculture in farmers’ minds.

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