Stubble Burning

What is stubble burning? 
Stubble burning is the practice of intentionally setting fire to the straw stubble that remains after grains, such as rice and wheat, have been harvested. Farmers resort to the practice due to the limited time they have between the harvesting of kharif paddy and sowing of the rabi wheat. They find it cost-effective and quick.
What are the drawbacks of this method
  • It is also one of the key causes for pollution in North India specially in winter season.
  • It reduces soil fertility in the long run.
Government Initiatives:
  • Ministry of Power has made biomass pellets mandatory in some coal-fired thermal power plants that would utilise the agricultural waste usually burnt by farmers.
  • Crop residue management machinery has been supplied to farmers. However, reports suggest low utilisation as farmers perceive the purchase or rent of such machineries to be an additional expense. Farmers prefer ex-situ management of crop residue through equipment such as balers as opposed to in-situ machinery.
  • Although Government efforts have given some positive outcomes but these are mainly short lived and also need a comprehensive approach to significantly reduce stubble burning.
Way forward:
  • Awareness generation and trust building exercises should be undertaken with the support of local civil society organisations.
  • As Stubble burning is fairly concentrated in regions within states so a targeted and cluster-based approach can be undertaken. Districts with a higher number of stubble burning incidents can be identified and concentrated upon.
  • Introduction of a dynamic monitoring system, which maps stubble burning events to beneficiaries of the schemes.
  • Ex-situ management of crop residue can also be explored under the schemes covering products such as bales and pellets for biomass power generation and supplementary feedstock in coal-fired power plants.

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