Punjab govt. commits to a 50% reduction in stubble-burning cases

Punjab govt. commits to a 50% reduction in stubble-burning cases

Context : 

According to the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM), the Punjab government pledged in its State Action Plan to reduce occurrences of paddy stubble burning by at least 50% this year compared to last year.

What is the Stubble Burning Method?

Stubble burning is one way to get rid of crop waste, notably the straw and stubble that is still present in fields after the main crop, such as rice, wheat, or other grains, has been harvested. The residual crop residue in the field is purposefully set on fire using this technique to quickly clear it.

What are the effects of Stubble Burning?

Positive Effects 

  • Cost-Effective: Burning crop debris from fields is sometimes regarded as a cost-effective technique of doing so. It does away with the necessity for labour-intensive techniques like mechanical removal.
  • Pest and Weed Control: Burning crop leftovers can help control pests and weeds that could otherwise affect the following crop. Insects, weed seeds, and plant diseases that are present in the residue can all be destroyed by fire.
  • Reduced Nitrogen Tie-up: Burning stubs can help to release some of the nitrogen that has been trapped in the residue. Burning can increase the availability of nitrogen for the subsequent crop, which is crucial for plant growth.

Negative Effects

  • Nutrient Loss: Crop residue burning results in the loss of important nutrients like carbon, nitrogen, and organic matter. Otherwise, the soil might gain from these nutrients by becoming more fertile and stable.
  • Air Pollution: Burning twigs causes smoke and other air pollutants to be released. Particulate particles, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and other dangerous chemicals are all part of this pollution. It contributes to air pollution, which can harm human health by aggravating preexisting illnesses and causing respiratory issues.
  • Contribution to Green House: Burning Stubble releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. These gases influence climate change and global warming.
  • Electrical and electronic equipment damage: When stubble is burned, conductive waste elements created by the burning residue may harm power lines and sensors in agricultural machinery.
  • Risk of Uncontrolled Fires: Under dry, windy circumstances, it is possible for fires started by burning stubble to become out of hand. This puts adjacent crops, properties, and even human lives in peril.
  • Loss of Soil Health: Over time, the practice of burning stubble can result in the deterioration of soil quality. It decreases the amount of organic matter in the soil, which may lead to soil erosion and a decrease in the soil’s ability to retain water.

Where is Stubble burning followed in India?

Stubble burning is primarily followed in several states in northern India. The northern plains of India, particularly the states of Punjab, Haryana, and portions of Uttar Pradesh, are where the practice is most prevalent. The widespread cultivation of crops like rice and wheat in these areas is well-known, and the result is a large volume of crop residue that remains after harvest. 

  • Punjab: One of the main areas where stubble burning is prevalent is Punjab. Due to its tremendous agricultural production, particularly in the cultivation of rice and wheat, the state is referred to as the “Granary of India”. Farmers frequently burn their stubble to swiftly prepare fields for the following crop.
  • Haryana: Significant stubble burning also occurs in Haryana, which borders Punjab. Similar to Punjab, Haryana is a significant producer of both rice and wheat in India.
  • Uttar Pradesh: Even though stubble burning is less common in Uttar Pradesh than it is in Punjab and Haryana, it is nevertheless used in several regions of the state, particularly those with extensive rice and wheat farming.
  • Delhi-NCR Region: The Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) is severely affected by the consequences of stubble burning in the nearby states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. During the winter, burning stubble contributes to serious air pollution issues in Delhi and the neighbouring areas.

What was decided by the Punjab Government to reduce stubble burning?

  • The Punjab government has pledged to cut down on incidences of burning rice stubble by at least 50% this year compared to last year. The State Action Plan to Combat Air Pollution includes this pledge.
  • Elimination Attempt: The State Action Plan also seeks to end instances of rice stubble burning in six districts: Hoshiarpur, Malerkotla, Pathankot, Rupnagar, SAS Nagar, and SBS Nagar.

What are the alternatives to stubble burning?

  • Mechanical Techniques
    • Crop Residue Mulching: Using specialized equipment, crop leftovers can be cut into tiny pieces and then scattered uniformly on the field’s surface as mulch rather than being burned. This increases soil fertility, decreases weed development, and improves soil moisture retention.
    • Zero-Tillage Agriculture: Using crop residue as a cover, zero-tillage or minimal-tillage farming techniques entail planting the following crop straight into the tilled soil. This lessens the requirement for residue removal and contributes to better soil health.
    • Happy Seeder: A specialized tool known as the “Happy Seeder” allows seeds to be planted straight into fields that have crop leftovers. The residue is cut and lifted, seeds are drilled into the ground, and then the residue is scattered evenly back over the field. This lessens the requirement for burning while improving soil fertility.
  • Biological Techniques:
    • Biological Decomposition: Farmers can promote natural crop residue decomposition by leaving crop remains on the surface of the field. As a result, the waste can gradually be broken down by soil microbes, enhancing the soil with organic matter.
    • Utilization of Decomposer Microbes: Some farmers utilize enzymes or microbial solutions to hasten the breakdown of crop waste. After harvest, these solutions are sprayed on the field to hasten the breakdown process.
  • Other Crop Options:
    • Diversification: Instead of growing rice or wheat, farmers can choose crops that produce less agricultural residue, including millets, pulses, or oilseeds. Because of their shorter stalks, these crops might not need as much residue treatment.


Overall, the Punjab government’s measures and dedication, as well as cooperative efforts among surrounding states, aim to lessen the negative effects of paddy stubble burning and enhance the region’s air quality, especially during the crucial winter months when air pollution tends to increase.