In view of Delhi's annual health emergency caused by stubble burning and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar proposing the use of a novel chemical that decomposes crop residue and turns it into manure.
The letter comes as Punjab Remote Sensing Centre has warned that air quality in parts of northern India, including Delhi, is likely to worsen in the next few days as farmers have started burning paddy stubble in neighbouring states.
"The IARI (Indian Agricultural Research Institute) offers a simple and cheap solution to the problem of stubble burning... If we use this chemical, the farmers will not need to buy combine harvesters - which are quite expensive despite heavy subsidy by the central government - and they will also need less fertilizer," Mr Kejriwal writes in his letter to the Union Environment Minister.
The letter adds that the use of this chemical can increase farm productivity as this chemical keeps intact certain beneficial microbes in the soil that get burnt with the stubble every year.
Experts at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) have developed what they call as “decomposer capsules”. Just four capsules can be used to prepare 25 litres of a solution, using some jaggery and chickpea flour, enough to cover one hectare of land.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal writes to Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change Prakash Javadekar over stubble burning issue; he mentions in his letter about the usage of a technology developed by ICAR-Indian Agriculture Research Institute, in Delhi & nearby States. pic.twitter.com/iG9JODlEdR— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2020
"From this year itself, the Delhi government plans to use this chemical on a large scale and ensure that Delhi farmers do not burn stubble. Though there's very little time left before sowing begins, I believe that if we all try we can prevent crop stubble burning," Mr Kejriwal states in his letter urging the central government to promote the use of this chemical in other states.
Parallelly, stubble burning has started in Punjab where almost 300 cases of stubble burning have been reported between September 21 and 25th September
"This is almost twice of what was reported during this period last year. Maximum incidents have been reported from Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Patiala," Dr Brijender Pateriya, Director of Punjab Remote Sensing Centre said.
The satellite images ring alarm bells as the government crackdown on stubble burning is also likely to be lax because of ongoing protests against three controversial farm bills. Farmers have said they have started burning stubble after waiting for the government help for 10 days.
The country has seen a sharp surge in the number of coronavirus cases which crossed the 58 lakh mark today with 85,000 new Covid cases.