Act against farm fires, Centre tells four states

The Union environment ministry has written to four states­Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan ­ asking them to take “stringent measures including punitive action“ to stop burning of crop residue and biomass.

The ministry also noted that had the states properly implemented the advisories issued to them regarding stubble burning, it would not have led to smog in the NCR. “I request you to launch intense monitoring in your state including through satellite-based remote sensing technologies to monitor crop residue management“, said Union environment secretary Ashok Lavasa in his letter to chief secretaries of the states.

Referring to instances of stubble burning, Lavasa said, “I also urge you to take stringent measures including punitive action to prevent and control burning of crop residue and biomass in agricultural fields and apprise the ministry of the action taken in this regard“.

Biomass burning is one of the major causes of air pollution during the winter which leads to deterioration in air quality which aggravates the respiratory problem. On Monday, TOI had carried a NASA satellite image that showed `fire spots’ across Punjab and northern Haryana and smog over northern India. It reported how Delhi’s air quality index had dramatically dropped by 60-80 points since Saturday -due to stubble-burning reaching its peak in Punjab -and was inching towards the `very poor’ zone when children are advised not to spend time outdoors.

In his note to the chief secretaries, the environment secretary referred to the October 31satellite image and pointed to the hundreds of fire spots across Punjab and parts of Haryana, and the smog over north India.

“The images clearly indicate that measures taken by the states of Punjab and Haryana in discouraging the crop burning in fields are not effective thus resulting in a major cause of air pollution in the northern part of India“, the letter stated.poor-air-quality

The ministry had earlier written to all the states on the issue twice in the past ­ first on October 2 last year and second time on September 15 this year ­ requesting them to comply with the advisory issued for curbing open burning of crop residue and biomass in fields and to the `National Policy for Management of Crop Residue­2014′ which emphasized on adoption of technical measures including diversified use of crop residue, capacity building and training.

Referring to these earlier advisories, Lavasa in his note said, “It appears that both the advisories as well as measures in the policy have not been implemented, which is leading to the occurrence of smog in the NCR“.

Source: TOI 04 Nov’2015

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