A solution to stubble burning has been found by scientists, a liquid which turns it into manure for fields, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said today while talking of the national capital's plans to curb pollution in the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak.
Stubble burning is one of the key sources of the thick, heavy smog that hangs in the air post-October. Most of it comes from the agricultural fields of neighbouring Punjab and Haryana, where farmers take the easy route to prepare the fields for the next sowing season.
Officials in Punjab and Haryana said this year, stubble burning started at least a week before it usually does, because of the early harvest of several varieties of paddy. Delhi's air quality is already in the "poor" category with an AQI (Air Quality Index) level of 262.
Today, while unveiling the government's plan to counter pollution, Mr Kejriwal said this year, scientists of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute have come up with a "cheap solution" to stubble burning.
This, he said, is a solvent that can be sprayed on the fields, which converts the stubble into manure. "The Delhi government is going to spray this in farm areas in Delhi," he said.
Pointing out the outbreak of coronavirus which targets the lungs, making people more vulnerable during the polluted atmosphere of Delhi winters, he said, "We all need to come together to deal with stubble burning. My appeal is that just like Delhi government came up with an alternative, other state governments should also do this".
A "war room" is being set up to monitor all anti-pollution measures being taken by his government, Mr Kejriwal said at a digital press conference, announcing seven measures to keep smog at bay. The list includes extensive use of mechanical sweepers and anti-smog guns.
"Our teams will inspect construction sites across Delhi and impose heavy fines or challans if they are found not following the anti-pollution measures," the Chief Minister said.
This year, the people of Delhi had months of relatively clean air due to the lockdown. From March to September, the air quality mostly remained in the 'satisfactory' or 'moderate' category.