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Delhi pollution woes: An explainer on the practice of stubble burning

Delhi pollution woes: An explainer on the practice of stubble burning

Delhi pollution woes: An explainer on the practice of stubble burning
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By Pradeep Suresh  Oct 16, 2019 5:19:54 PM IST (Updated)

The practice is particularly severe in states like Punjab, Haryana and UP that depend heavily on the agriculture sector.

The Delhi government has shared an image from NASA showing large scale stubble burning in adjoining states. The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government has been blaming the severe air pollution in Delhi on these stubble burning activities after the air quality of the national capital started to decrease in the past few days

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What is stubble burning
Stubble burning can be defined as the practice of clearing the agrarian land by burning after it is harvested. The practice has been in use across the country for generations as an easy and cheap mode to clear the post-harvest farmlands from existing stubble and straws.
The practice is particularly severe in states like Punjab, Haryana and UP that depend heavily on the agriculture sector.
Why is it in the news
The practice of stubble burning in north India at the advent of the winter season is adversely affecting the air quality in the region, particularly Delhi.  For the past few years, the capital city has become infamous across the globe for having one of the most polluted air quality.  Smoke from the burning produces a cloud of particulates and has produced a "toxic cloud" in New Delhi, resulting in declarations of an air-pollution emergency on several occasions.
While calls have been made to take strict action against this practice by various agencies including the National Green Tribunal (NGT), it has so far failed to create any results.
Why do people do it
For farmers, the method is a quick and cheap way to clear large areas of farmland making it available for the new next crop season. The burning also helps in the destruction of weeds, slugs and even pests that are a threat to crops. Also, farmers believe that burning of weeds and slugs help to convert them into fertilisers that aid the farming process.
The harmful effects
Apart from the harmful effects of poisonous smoke, the process leads to the wastage of nutrients that if processed properly could be great fertilisers. In addition, there also exists the threat that the fire may go out of control and lead to damage and destruction.
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