News: The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has launched an advanced Air Quality Early Warning System.
About the advanced Air Quality Early Warning System:
- It has been developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, under MoES.
- The system uses data of stubble burning incidents from the past 15 years to predict the date and place of the next burning. It is the first time that stubble burning is being forecast.
- Using the data, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), under the aegis of the Central Pollution Control Board, will create probability maps to alert government agencies about areas where the chances of stubble burning is going to be high.
- The system can also track pollution load from stubble burning in places neighbouring Delhi NCR, using satellite data.
- It can predict the air pollution level for next 72 hours. It can also forecast the level of pollutants like particulate matter (PM) 2.5, PM10, and dust, coming from sources other than stubble burning.
- Significance: The system would help authorities to take preventive steps to control pollution levels from stubble burning as well as mitigate pollution from existing sources.
- Stubble burning is the practice of intentionally setting fire to residues which remains after the harvest of a crop. It is usually done to clear the field quickly for the next season and to burn off weeds and other pests.
- Stubble burning is pan-Indian problem. However, it is most acute in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. It contributes significantly to air pollution in Delhi-NCR region when in autumn, paddy stubbles are burned to prepare field for wheat cultivation.
- In 2013, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued a directive to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to take immediate steps to curb stubble burning. The Centre and states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have declared “zero tolerance policy” on stubble burning.
- Further, in 2018, the Punjab government drafted an action plan to deal with stubble burning. Under the plan, the state has decided to provide straw management machinery at 80% subsidy to the cooperative societies and other groups and at 50% subsidy to individual farmers. The state has also signed MoUs with major companies to set up Bio-CNG, ethanol and biogas plants using crop residue.