The fire that hurts the heart of India

KJ Staff
KJ Staff

Today, Delhi woke up with smog in the air. Following the fog pattern, the capital should witness this kind of blur vision at the second half or closing of the November month, but some un-invited causes like climate change responses and paddy straw burning has added up to this chaos in the air.

India produces rice at the 22% of the crop area it covers. And Punjab cultivates paddy at the 99% of its field. Ever since the Bhakra Nangal Project was made successful in the Punjab province in the early 1960s, irrigation facilities has helped and boosted the production of the rice varieties. Haryana going by the shadow also produces paddy at the 10-15% of its cropped area. And since the water availability in Punjab is good, the Kharif season is dedicated to the Paddy particularly.

The paddy which is sown in Punjab, is of dwarf variety which produces 50% of straw. States like West Bengal and southern states produces the long variety of rice in majority which produces straw in the ratio 1: 2, i.e double of which is produced in Punjab. But still the problem of straw burning is not talked widely. It is because of the alternative uses of straw in those areas. In these states, the bovines are fed with the straw as fodder, also straw is used for making thatched roofs which are the shelter for the poor population. The Punjab farmers are prominent and feed their dairy animals with green fodder only. Also the thatched roofs of the straw are hard to be seen. So, the alternative uses has come down.

The other scientific uses of straw like organic manure, bio-fuel etc are available. Paddy straw can be used to make compost and manure by treating them with water, cow dung and kitchen waste etc. But this process of bio-composting generally takes 2-3 months. Considering the lower temperature on the onset of November this process of rotten-ing slows down due to lower microbe interferences.

The other factor is, as soon as the paddy is harvested and threshed, wheat has to be sown. And the most economical and convenient is to burn the straw. There are various solutions available to get away with the problem of straw but passing the baton to farmers, would be an indecent and inappropriate measure. The government has to get involved to find an efficient way to utilize the solutions which are available. The pollution level in Delhi has been adamant and swings from poor to very poor air quality levels. The air quality index or AQI which is a series of colour codings shared by agencies on the level of pollution has shown the green code very rarely, otherwise the color RED dominates the color chart of the air quality. Other than paddy straw burning in Punjab the North West Wind pattern is also to be blamed which converges to north India and affects the air quality in Delhi. The industrial region of the NCR cannot be left untouched when talking of the pollution and its massacre.

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