More cases of stubble burning in the neighbouring states were recorded this time as compared to last year despite a strict enforcement, Supreme Court-appointed EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal said Friday as he stressed on the need to bring a change in the mentality of people so that they look at the alternatives to this practice.
Speaking at a workshop on Bulk Utilisation of Crop Residue for Economic and Environmental Sustainability organised by the PHD Chamber, he noted that paddy straw can be a very rich source of fertilisers and its best utilisation would be to merge it with soil.
Stubble burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana is one of the major causes for poor air quality in Delhi. The air quality in the national capital last Thursday went off the charts as smog caused due to bursting of firecrackers engulfed the city. The air quality index (AQI) was recorded at a high 642.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) chairman pointed out that despite the fact that "enforcement was strict this time, more stubble burning was recorded this year as compared to last year".
Lal said it had been seen that the younger generation was ready to look for alternatives, but the older generation still wanted to stick with stubble burning.
"It takes a period of 45 days for paddy straw to decompose completely and then be used as fertiliser, but farmers usually have just 25 days," he said.
"If we succeed in reducing this period of 45 days to 25 days, our problems related to stubble burning will be solved," the EPCA chairman said.
"Subsidies have been granted but still the practice of stubble burning is prevailing," he said, warning that this trend must change otherwise it would be "difficult to breathe".
Stubble burning in neighbouring states combined with other factors in Delhi such as vehicular emissions, industrial pollution and smoke from firecrackers around Diwali plague the national capital's air quality every year.
This year too, the pollution level spiked to "severe-plus emergency" level due to rampant burning of firecrackers leading to the formation of blanket of smoke across Delhi.
V N Kale, Additional Commissioner in the Agriculture Ministry, who was also present on the occasion, however, had said last year that out of 20 million tonnes of paddy straws, about 17 million tonnes was burnt, but this year it was around 13-15 million tonnes.
In a letter to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Lal had on Wednesday recommended implementation of either the odd-even scheme or a complete ban on non-CNG private vehicles if the air pollution level in Delhi increased again.