Chanakya IAS Academy Blog

Notice

Question:
It is believed that much of the pollution in Delhi in November every year originates in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana where farmers burn their fields to dispose of crop residue. How far do you think that that this is the only reason for pollution. Also place your views on practical and cost-effective solution to deal with the problem.

Suggested points to be followed for answer writing:

Discuss about the current situation:

  • Over the past week, Delhi has remained under the grip of dense smog. This year’s pollution levels are the highest ever measured in two decades.
  • Newspapers reported that much of this pollution originated in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana where farmers burn their fields to dispose crop residue. But they were short on providing solutions to deal with the problem of burning of agricultural fields.

some facts

  • There is, in fact, a simple, practical, and cost-effective way to eliminate most of the smog that envelopes Delhi and the entire northwest of the country every November. At this time of the year, farmers in the states of
  • Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh harvest the rice crop by combine harvesters.
  • This machine leaves rice straw strewn all over the fields. Because farmers do not value the rice straw as animal-feed or for non-feed use, they dispose of the residue by burning it. The straws clogs the seeder machines that plant the next crop, which is wheat, so farmers need to dispose of the residue before attempting to plant wheat.

Solutions:

  • A machine called the ‘Happy Seeder’ has been developed in the last few years that can plant the wheat seed without getting jammed by the rice straw.
  • The Happy Seeder is a tractor-mounted machine that cuts and lifts rice straw, sows wheat into the bare soil, and deposits the straw over the sown area as mulch.

Solutions within the city:

  • "A System of Walkways Network" for Pedestrians.
    • A vast network inter-connected foot-over bridges which are in turn connected to bus stands (BRTs), metro stations, auto stands, other public utility(s), etc.
    • Walkways which are in length can have travelators for fast walking connecting various places in Delhi.
  • Cars. Even as vehicle ownership numbers skyrocket, most Indians still walk, cycle or use public transport to get around. To keep the balance from shifting, the country needs to rethink its existing car-centric policies.
  • Soil and road dust, kicked up by traffic and construction, do at least as much to foul the air in places like Delhi.
  • promising approach to cleaning the air is to adopt new technologies that can cut down on harmful emissions. The government needs to enforce rather than relax deadlines for cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Impact and Benefit(s):

  • It will reduce pollution as people will prefer to walk for short distance/long distance (connected via travelators) for free rather than paying for petrol and drive a vehicle.
  • Solar Panels and Battery System can be installed on these network of walkways for energy generation as well efficient lighting at night.
  • It will also help in improving public health.
  • Small kiosks can also be provided for vendors thus providing another way of livelihood to street vendors.
  • Safety for women can also be ensured on these walkways as CCTV surveillance would be there.
  • Free Wifi connectivity upto 200MB can be offered on these walkways to encourage more footfall.
  • Public Private partnership model where Private companies can be given the space on the walkway for advertising in lieu of providing construction cost, maintenance and operation of the system of skywalks/walkways.

Conclusion

  • Banning burning, or appeals by government officials, has been mostly ineffective in districts of Punjab and Haryana. It has failed mainly because farmers don’t know of any cost-effective alternative, and they are politically too powerful to be forced to do something that would reduce their incomes from farming.
  • There are many viable alternative to conventional tillage. What is needed for its rapid adoption is a major government push to publicise and popularise our methods to control this pollution.

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