Same story, again!
Year after year, there has been a persisting problem of poor air quality in the national capital, screaming for solutions. Novel ideas have been crafted to somewhat deal with the issue yet the prevailing degraded air quality is significant of the fact that despite vast progression in all spheres of national development, we still find ourselves a step back vis-à-vis air pollution. Prior to Diwali this year, amidst vast apprehensions of a smog blanket shrouding the city, a relatively clean air September had garnered some hope. Further, green crackers and light and sound show organised by the Delhi government hoped for a major reduction in firecrackers. However, it was impossible to control the AQI post-Diwali as firecracker burning was seemingly inevitable. But Delhi's blanket of smog that hung over the city spiking the AQI to an average of 400 on Tuesday was not only due to firecrackers. A part of it was the courtesy of stubble burning episodes prevalent in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. Government-run SAFAR (System of Air Quality Forecasting And Research) recorded a spike in the stubble burning counts, forcing Delhi CM to request the governments of two states – with folded hands – to take action against the same in a tweet. For residents of Delhi, the stubble burning situation feels like déjà vu. Ever since NGT banned stubble burning in Delhi, middlemen have been collecting stubble @ Rs 2,000 or Rs 3,500 from a killa (nearly an acre) of rice fields in Delhi; they sell it to either the dairies or as packaging material in markets. If stubble burning episodes are evident in the outskirts of Delhi then that is due to a lack of supportive effort. It should be acknowledged that without the government's help, a farmer has to depend on these very middlemen for disposal of stubble – which is an obstruction to farmers as they cannot sow unless the stubble is cleared from their fields. Most farmers acknowledge the NGT ban but helplessly might still burn the stubble since they're dependent on these middlemen who only lurk for profits. A similar dilemma can be faced by farmers in the neighbouring states as well for even their governments have not been supportive in farmers' endeavour of stubble disposal. If there's no alternative, and the farmer needs to proceed with his sowing of next crop, what real solutions does he have apart from simply burning the obstruction (stubble)? Simply banning something seldom helps and we have plastic as a glaring example. Unless the government supports farmers in safe disposal of stubble, the feeling of déjà vu will return every October, making us gasp for clean air in the national capital!