According to a recent study titled “Risk of
acute respiratory infection from crop burning in India: estimating disease
burden and economic welfare from satellite and national health survey data for
250,000 persons” by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), crop
residue burning increases the risk of respiratory illnesses threefold for those
who experience it. The study further added that air pollution due to crop
residue burning in northern India causes an estimated economic loss of USD 30
The study used NASA satellite data on fire
activity to estimate the health impact of people living in Haryana by comparing
them with Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh where crop residue burning is not
prominent. Health was measured by the frequency of reported hospital visits for
Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) symptoms. The researchers observed that as
crop burning increased in Haryana, respiratory health worsened.
Farmers try to maximize their yields by planting
the next crop as soon as possible after the previous crop has been harvested
(generally wheat after rice). To quickly clear the field for the next crop,
they burn the leftover stubble. This large scale burning of crop residues in
October- November in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh contributes
significantly to the air pollution in Delhi NCR.
2013, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued a directive to Punjab, Haryana
and Uttar Pradesh to take immediate steps to curb stubble burning. The Centre
and states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have declared “zero tolerance
policy” on stubble burning.
in 2018, the Punjab government drafted an action plan to deal with stubble
burning. Under the plan, the state has decided to provide straw management
machinery at 80% subsidy to the cooperative societies and other groups and
at 50% subsidy to individual farmers. The state has also signed MoUs with major
companies to set up Bio-CNG, ethanol and biogas plants using crop residue.