1. Agriculture World

Pusa Bio-Decomposer – A “Billion Dollar” Solution for Stubble Burning Problem

Abhijeet Banerjee
Abhijeet Banerjee
stubble burning

Stubble burning is setting fire intentionally by the farmers, to the straw stubble is left after harvesting of grains, like paddy, wheat, etc. The problem arising from this activity remains quite concerning every year, and the situation has turned quite alarming this year, considering the ongoing Pandemic, which is yet to get wiped out. Last year's stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana had contributed to 44 percent of the pollution in NCR Delhi. According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the Ministry of Earth Science, near to 50,000 cases of stubble burning was reported in Punjab last year. Studies have indicated that stubble burning contributes about 18 to 40 per cent of particulate matter to atmosphere in northern plains. It also emits large amounts of toxic pollutants like Methane, Carbon Monoxide and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. So air pollution rises significantly in Delhi and the NCR regions every year, just after Kharif and Rabi season harvests, thereby increasing the health related hazards amongst people. Currently the air quality in Delhi and NCR territory remains much poor as compared with specified levels, making it difficult for people to get fresh/healthier air, or come out of their houses.

Reports say that farmers mainly in Punjab and Haryana burn an estimated 35 million tons of crop waste from their paddy fields every year between late September and October and smoke from this burning results in a cloud of particulates visible from space and has produced what has been described as a "toxic cloud" in the nation’s capital, leading declarations of an air-pollution emergency. Emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs - a major contributor of global warming), increased levels of particulate matter/smog which increases health hazards, loss of biodiversity of agricultural lands, deterioration of soil fertility, damage to electrical/electronic equipment from floating threads of conducting waste, and risk of fires spreading out of control, are the major threats associated with stubble burning. The Environment Minister Mr. Gopal Rai had stated that nearly 40 per cent of the Delhi pollution happens due to stubble burning in neighboring states. This year too the rise in pollution is due to the massive stubble burning in stated of Punjab and Haryana.

Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa have developed Pusa bio-decomposer, which can turn crop residue into manure in 15 to 20 days and therefore, can prevent stubble burning. So this is a milestone achievement by the IARI scientists in addressing this critical problem in near future. The 'Pusa bio-decomposer' was sprayed free of cost in non-basmati rice fields in Hiranki village in Narela and the results have been successful so far. It has completely decomposed the stubble and turned it into manure. Therefore it becomes convenient for farmers to prepare for their next crop plantation in the fields.

In this context Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told media persons last week that the "Pusa bio-decomposer" product was successful in Delhi and the city government will inform the Supreme Court that it is an effective way to prevent stubble burning. Therefore the Delhi government has found a cheap solution to the problem of crop residue burning. Since it will help in reducing Government’s budget over pollution control methods to a large extent and also contribute in reducing health risks, this development can be surely considered as a “Billion Dollar” solution for the nation. According to a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology last year, respiratory ailments related with crop residue burning in North India, results in an estimated economic loss of over $30 billion or approximately 2 lakh crore annually. In future, other states can also adopt this cost effective method, in addressing the problems related to stubble burning.  

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