Millennium Post

Neighbouring states begin work to find alternatives to stubble burning

NEW DELHI: This year, residents of the national Capital can expect better air quality, as the neighbouring states will utilise the central government's fund of Rs 1,140.3 crore to manage stubble burning.
The Delhi government's Environment Department had recently held secretary-level talks with the neighbouring states on how the latter would utilise the fund to use the stubble for making fuel.
Haryana has been allocated Rs 216 crore and Punjab, Rs 365 crore for the scheme.
The budgetary allocation for the Union Environment Ministry for 2018-19 is Rs 2,675.42 crore, identical to last Budget's allocation. In the 2017-18 Union Budget, the Ministry had received a hike of nearly 19 per cent.
The recently released 'Economic Survey' had called Delhi one of the "unhealthiest" cities in the world, in terms of air pollution.
States like Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan are, meanwhile, trying to come up with new ways to stop stubble burning, using the funds allocated by the Centre.
"If the states can control stubble burning, then Delhi will be the benefitted and will get better air quality. This time, it is a kind of litmus test of the fight against pollution," said a government official.
However, environmentalists do not see much difference in this initiative.
Activist Sunil Dahiya said, "While, agricultural biomass burning is an important issue to tackle emissions, fighting air pollution requires efforts to bring down pollution from many sources, like vehicles, coal-fired power plants, industries, brick kilns etc."
"Having a comprehensive, systematic, time-bound Clean Air Action Plan with clear financing mechanisms and fixed accountability is the only way we can start progressing towards Clean Air Nation," he further said.
Dahiya added that the country is running out of time to act against air pollution and "every single day delay is leading to environmental, public health and economic loss to the country which will have a huge impact on India's dreams to become a leader in saving the environment."
Another environmental expert said, "Farmers are leaving agriculture by the
thousands on a daily basis and the focus needs to be an impetus to ensure it is made sustainable by moving away from industrialised agriculture practices and more towards agroecology."
In his Budget speech in February, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said, "A special scheme will be implemented to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution and to subsidise machinery required for institutional management of crop residue.".
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