Economic Survey 2019-20: What it says on stubble burning

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News: Economic Survey 2019-20 has said that the number of stubble-burning incidents (61,332) in 2019 was the least in four years. However, the survey highlights agricultural residue burning as a “major concern”.

Facts:

Stubble Burning: It is the practice of intentionally setting fire to residues that 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.

Steps taken

  • The Centre and states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have declared “zero-tolerance policy” on stubble burning.
  • 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.
  • Happy Seeder: It is a tractor-operated machine developed by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in collaboration with Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). It is used for in-situ management of paddy stubble (straw).
  • 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.

Recommendations put forward by Economic Survey 2019-2020:

  • Agriculture conservation should be promoted with “low lignocellulosic” crop residues such as rice, wheat and maize.
  • Crop residue-based briquettes(a block of compressed coal dust or peat used as fuel.) to be encouraged
  • Thermal power plants in the vicinity to be encouraged to undertake co-firing of crop residues with coal