“The farmers can’t be made villains,” said the Supreme Court over the matter of poor air quality in the national capital, stated in the article by Times of India. The article emphasizes on Punjab government’s mismanagement of stubble burning and questions the possibilities of discouraging paddy crops as the state walks on the path of getting arid gradually. Also, suggests making crop residue management 100% free.
Quoting Karl Marx’s popular phrase - “History repeats itself first as tragedy and second as farce” has become an imperative thought in the stubble-burning scenario. As early as 1980, the incidence of air pollution could be remarked as an episode of unawareness or poor preparedness but cannot be overlooked if it continues to be dragged in 2023. In spite of facing a similar air pollution issue over several years due to the burning of stubble, the government seems to remain oblivious until the situation goes beyond repair. A waste product that can be constructively used by farmers, commoners, and power plants is becoming a cause of health and environmental destruction.
Stubble burning or parali is a practice of intentionally setting fire to the remaining harvest and waste crops in order to clear the farm. This method, in spite of its hazards, is practiced by Punjab and Haryana farmers. But do they intend to do this every coming year? Have policies and rules implied by the government resulted in improvements? Or are we biting the hands that feed us by giving impractical solutions and regulations?
Known as the paddy belt, these two states have been producing a surplus of wheat and rice. The availability of cheap power and water and assured procurement at a price that is higher than the market rate has got farmers in northern states hooked to paddy and rice. In spite of introducing machinery which can sustainably manage stubble is not being brought into practice due to its expensive rates.
What are the solutions?
- Creating an incentive program for farmers that shall bring a change in behavior towards burning stubble and giving it up for other production.
- Encouraging private sector industries to work on an affordable rent basis for machinery that shall ensure a reduction in waste management costs for farmers.
- Educating farmers on the utilization of stubble at the correct time.
- Private sector companies involved in paper and cardboard production can source the stubble for the making of paper for art.
- Entrepreneurs dealing in craft items can explore this eco-friendly utilization of waste products. Just like an entrepreneur from Haryana had done in 2022 which not only resulted in thoughtful business but also created employment for women from small villages - Designer stubble: A Haryana entrepreneur is creating home décor from much-maligned crop residue
- The government to work from the beginning of the year to plan the optimization of stubble for ethanol plants.
These solutions could have loopholes but suggestions and discussion on the right platform like this one may lead to constructive methods.