New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The stubble burning season is about to begin in India -- mainly in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh -- with the onset of winters. Stubble burning continues to be the prime cause of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR as the air quality index (AQI) turns "hazardous". The problem of stubble burning not only leads to the deterioration of the AQI in the Delhi-NCR but has also become a political issue for Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh with states blaming each other for the yearly problem.

As stubble burning season is about to begin in India, here's everything you need to know about the yearly problem:

Why do farmers in India burn stubble despite a ban on it?

In Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, wheat and paddy are the most prevalent crops. However, the short time available between rice harvesting and the sowing of wheat forces farmers to burn the stubble. This is because a delay in the sowing of wheat would adversely affect the crop and thus farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the paddy residue.

Though stubble burning is banned in Punjab and Haryana, farmers continue to defy it as there is a short window between harvesting paddy and sowing wheat. Moreover, the high cost of manual or mechanical management of straw is another reason why farmers choose to burn stubble.

How Centre is planning to tackle the issue of stubble burning?

Recently, the Centre has made the use of biomass pellets mandatory in some thermal power plants to cut air pollution by using agricultural waste to generate electricity. The decision makes it mandatory for three categories of thermal power plants to use a 5 per cent blend of biomass pellets along with coal.

"The policy for co-firing of biomass would be in force for 25 years or until the useful life of the thermal power plant, whichever is earlier," said the Union Power Ministry in a statement, adding that the policy will come into force in October 2022.

'Non-basmati paddy straw likely to reduce by 12 pc this year'

The Centre's Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) feels that paddy straw generation from non-basmati varieties in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh will reduce by 12.42 per cent this year. It said the burning of paddy straw from the non-basmati variety of crops is of prime concern.

"Paddy straw generation from non-basmati varieties is expected to decrease from 17.82 million tonnes in 2020 to 16.07 million tonnes in 2021 in Punjab and from 3.5 million tonnes in 2020 to 2.9 million tonnes in 2021 in Haryana," it said.

"Steps taken towards reducing paddy straw generation are yielding positive results. The total paddy area in Haryana, Punjab and the eight NCR districts of Uttar Pradesh has come down by 7.72 per cent as compared to last year, Similarly, paddy straw generation from non-basmati varieties is likely to be reduced by 12.42 per cent as compared to last year," it added.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma