FPJ Editorial: Farmers Alone Are Not To Blame

FPJ Editorial: Farmers Alone Are Not To Blame

The farmers do not have the financial capacity to pluck out the stubble and bury it in the fields where it will become part of the soil.

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Friday, November 17, 2023, 12:09 AM IST
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Stubble-burning is environmentally hazardous, and it should be prevented. However, to label it as the villain for the high pollution levels in the Union Capital city is certainly erroneous. The Supreme Court seems to think that if stubble-burning is halted, the air quality in Delhi would improve dramatically. It has asked the neighbouring states to take appropriate action to prevent it. The Punjab government has set in motion certain preventive and punitive measures against this environmentally dangerous practice. Naturally, the farmers are upset, and they are now on the agitational path. They have, in fact, called for a protest on November 20.

True, there are safer ways of disposing of stubble, but they are costly. The farmers do not have the financial capacity to pluck out the stubble and bury it in the fields where it will become part of the soil. This involves labour, and the farmers do not enjoy enough margins in their occupation to account for this expenditure. There are other ways of destroying the stubble by using chemical substances, but that also calls for additional expenditure, besides causing environmental issues. They also do not have the knowledge of alternative ways of disposal. There is no clear data about stubble-burning contributing to pollution in the Capital.

Recently, the people of Delhi celebrated Diwali. Despite the high pollution levels in the city and the warnings against the use of fireworks, there was no let-up in the celebration. Overnight, there was a worsening of the situation in the Capital. Could the farmers be blamed for it? The state has the highest per capita motor vehicle population in the country, despite the fact that the Delhi Metro remains grossly under-utilised except during peak hours.

The large number of vehicles used for the movement of VIPs is a sorry commentary on the lack of social consciousness that plagues the nation. Yet, the sad fact is that the poor farmers of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan are blamed for the poor air quality in Delhi. Instead of punishing farmers, the government should find ways of empowering them so that they can explore alternative ways of destroying stubble. If necessary, the government should financially support them, instead of blaming them for air pollution in the national capital.

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