Air pollution levels will rise even further in the Capital, with the onset of the paddy harvesting season. In fact, straw burning will become the norm in neighbouring states such as Punjab and Haryana, with the state governments afraid of cracking down on the practice, fearing agitation by farmers.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) — a Supreme Court (SC) mandated body to monitor air pollution in the city — said it may have to implement measures under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) sooner than the slated date of October 15 if the burning starts early. The measures will include diverting school buses, limiting private vehicles and closure of thermal power plants in Delhi and the NCR.
“At present the air quality is fine, however, since the neighbouring states are wary of mass agitation by farmers, they have not been able to implement machinery instead of burning waste,” a senior Delhi government official said.
“The states have not come up with any concrete policy to desist farmers from stubble burning. Also, states have not been able to create as much awareness about the issue or compensate farmers for it. This will mean pollution levels to increase in Delhi, NCR for which we may have to implement the measures soon,” he added
On Wednesday, the Punjab government had a hearing in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the matter. A group of farmers from the state had filed a plea against the government for not taking effective steps or incentives against the issue and “forcing” orders on them. The NGT had last year asked the state governments to give incentives to farmers to adopt modern technology against straw burning. The GRAP came into existence last November, after the Capital witnessed layers of smog following Diwali, with air almost turning toxic.
According to the Plan, measures under the “severe” and “emergency” categories also include stopping heavy goods vehicles (except for those with essentials) to enter the city limits. The cvic bodies and other government agencies will be tasked to identify construction sites across the city. Besides, the Pollution Under Control (PUC) test centers will be monitored by the state transport authority and the government’s task force.
Damage to soil
Apart from polluting air, the practice of stubble burning robs soil of its nutrients as well. According to agro experts, burning one tonne of straw accounts for a loss of 5.5 kg nitrogen, 2.3 kg phosphorus, 25 kg potassium and 1.2 kg sulphur.
The GRAP has an advisory for each category of air pollution — emergency, severe, very poor, moderate and poor. It suggests “Odd-Even system to be implemented” during the “severe” and “emergency” categories of air quality.
Source:- DNA India