Sunday, April 27, 2014

Agricultural Waste Burning in Central India

Farmers are disposing of the remains of the crop destroyed in the recent hailstorm by burning. This is adding to air pollution as huge quantities of particulate matter, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ash and sulphur dioxide are being released in the process. Read more @ Times of India

To look into the matter, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered that a pilot committee be constituted by MP pollution control board (MPPCB) within the next three days to assess the impact of burning of crop residue on the atmosphere and the local ecosystem. On Friday, while hearing a petition on hailstorms, central zone bench of the NGT comprising Justice Dalip Singh and expert member PS Rao expressed grave concern over the environmental impact of burning of crop residue.

More images from Earth Observatory

NGT bench also ordered that agriculture and animal husbandry departments, MP Biodiversity board, MPPCB and Jawaharlal Nehru Agricultural University Jabalpur constitute a joint committee, including a scientific officer from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which will look after the proposal of disposal of straws and other residual material. The committee will also discuss issues such as dearth of fodder for livestock because of damage incurred to the crop.

Agriculture Insurance Company (AIC) of India Ltd has been directed to apprise the NGT of the role an insurance company plays, vis-a-vis crop insurance in case of natural calamities like the recent hailstorm so that their correlation can be ascertained. Farmers should also be educated about various alternative ways of getting rid of crop remains other than burning.

Applicant Subhash C Pandey said that standing crop is being adversely affected by climate change, natural calamities and also burning of crop residue. "Lakhs of acres of farmland is being burnt as famers don't know any other technique to get rid of crop residue. Alternatives methods are costlier and require increased labour inputs. Therefore, farmers choose the cheaper option of burning crop residue but this spells doom for the environment," he said. In a similar petition to the principal bench of NGT, a report was submitted on March 21 and that also has to be placed before the bench before the next date of hearing on May 19.

Air pollution estimate

Particulate matter - 45,000 tonnes
Carbon monoxide - 900,000 tonnes
Carbon dioxide - 21.9 million tonnes
Ash - 2.985 million tonnes
Sulphur dioxide - 30,000 tonnes

Rabi crop - approx 15 million tonnes

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