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The rice of the matter

  • Published
    11th Nov, 2023

Context-

The Supreme Court (SC) bench has come down heavily on the adjoining states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Air Quality Crisis and Urgent Measures

  • Supreme Court Directive: The Supreme Court mandates an immediate halt to stubble burning, instructing states to find lasting solutions. It suggests local Station House Officers (SHOs) oversee implementation, highlighting a judicial push for urgent action.
  • Stubble Burning and Air Pollution: Stubble burning, particularly in states like Punjab, significantly contributes to Delhi's air pollution, constituting 37.85% of the problem. In contrast, transport and construction play a minor role. Addressing stubble burning is deemed crucial.
  • Emphasis on Regional Cooperation: Need of effective regional cooperation in combating stubble burning. As the practice transcends state boundaries, collaborative efforts are essential to control pollution and safeguard public health.

Impact on Public Health and Solutions

  • Health Impact and Stubble Burning Measures: Delhi's severe air pollution, primarily from stubble burning, may reduce residents' lives by 11.9 years, as per the Air Quality Life Index. Proposed solutions include uprooting stubble, using smart machines, and mulching.
  • Punjab's Unique Challenges: Punjab faces distinct challenges due to subsidized paddy cultivation, contributing to environmental harm. Shifting farmers from paddy involves subsidies for alternative crops, incentivizing ethanol production, and reducing paddy procurement from stubble-burning areas.
  • Comprehensive Strategies: To combat stubble burning, a multifaceted approach is suggested, including subsidies for alternative crops, private-sector incentives for ethanol, and strategic reduction in paddy procurement. These strategies aim for environmental sustainability and health improvement.

Comprehensive Strategies for Environmental Health

Agricultural Transformation: Comprehensive strategies include subsidies for non-paddy crops, reducing PDS reliance on rice and wheat, and establishing nutrition hubs. These aim at diversifying crops and enhancing environmental sustainability.

Consumer Choice and Pollution Mitigation:Promoting consumer choice through food vouchers, transitioning to electric vehicles, and introducing ethanol-blended fuels address Delhi's pollution. These measures contribute to a diversified market and pollution reduction.

Urgent National-Level Action: Air pollution is a national issue and there is need for immediate and concerted national-level efforts. Policymakers are urged to recognize the urgency and implement effective measures.

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