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Cleaner air, better life

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Quiet mind, expectant heart. Student.

Air pollution is causing irreparable damage to the country’s well-being. On an average, citizens of India have their life expectancy cut short by 5.3 years due to air pollution. In 2017, around 12.4 lakh deaths were recorded due to air pollution in India. 1800 primary schools were closed temporarily due to poor air quality posing a major health hazard. Moreover, the cost of serious health consequences from particulate pollution is estimated at 3 per cent of India’s GDP.

Crop Residue Management Initiative

39 million tonnes of paddy straw is burnt every year in North Western states. Crop Residue Burning, an age-old practice, is not only degrading the environment but also putting a dent in farmers’ return. It negatively impacts the soil health, kills beneficial insects, increases irrigation requirements, and significantly adds on to the already prevalent pollution.

To promote sustainable agricultural practice and mitigate the problem of crop residue burning the goal is to implement the Crop Residue Management Initiative in villages of Punjab and Haryana. Implemented with the support of numerous stakeholders, including Punjab Agricultural University, Punjab Pollution Control Board and Department of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Government of Punjab the initiative aims to make the adopted villages free from the practice of stubble burning.

These results make a strong case that the problem of stubble burning can be tackled while making the farming more sustainable and economically beneficial to farmers. Based on the findings and learnings of the pilot intervention, GOI gave its recommendations to the PMO recently.

Encouraged by the inspiring response of pilot intervention is expanding the programme in a multi-stakeholder partnership to 76 villages in 2019 across districts of Ludhiana, Barnala, Patiala and Sangrur in Punjab and Rohtak and Fatehabad in Haryana. There has to be active support generated by Farmer Producer Organizations and Farmer Cooperatives. Gradually a multi-pronged approach would prove successful to make the adopted villages free from the practice of stubble burning through field action, behaviour change communication & mass awareness, and research & knowledge management.

Proposed Activities and Methodology

Making Villages Stubble Burning Free

The target stands to be the farmers, and the constant effort in bringing about a behavioural change through community involvement, training, and hand holding, persuading them to adopt better farming practices that are sustainable and environment friendly.

Awareness building is being done by active involvement of local volunteers, social influencers, and change agents. A designated project could further help in providing technological handholding support to farmers by engaging scientists from the Agriculture Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, and District Agriculture Offices. Financial support to farmer cooperatives is provided to procure the required farm machines, which will be used by the entire farming community in the adopted villages by paying a nominal rent.

Straw Value Chain Development
R&D on ex situ management of straw and execution of the solutions: Village level exists raw management techniques will be piloted, through involvement of village level entrepreneurs. Lastly generating communication with enterprises (such as start-ups, industry players, etc.) that are working on this issue, and will act as a platform for building their knowledge and capacity and strengthening of this sector.

Research and policy advocacy
Bringing together diverse stakeholders to solve the issue at scale. Engage with Government for policy reforms and recommendations.

 -Raashi Kumar 
 Hindu College Delhi University

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