Stubble Burning

Stubble Burning


Every year, as autumn fades into winter, northern India grapples with an environmental challenge – a surge in pollution levels.

  • While several factors contribute to the thick smog, the practice of stubble burning emerges as a significant contributor.
  • Despite a decline in recorded incidents this year, the consequences persist, affecting the health of citizens, as exemplified by the poignant story of Fauzia Begum.
  • This article delves into the dimensions of stubble burning, its pervasive impact, and the complexities surrounding the issue.


GS – 1 (Land Resources, Conservation of Resources)

GS – 2 (Government Policies & Interventions)


Stubble Burning, Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) machine, CAQM, Air Pollution.

Mains Question:

Discuss the environmental and health repercussions of stubble burning in northern India, highlighting the factors contributing to its persistence despite mitigation efforts. (250 words)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • The Human Toll
  • Geographical Extent
  • Stubble Burning Amplification
  • Government and Judicial Response
  • Farmer Dilemma
  • Environmental Impact

The Human Toll:

  • The insidious nature of pollution, often referred to as a “hidden killer,” takes a toll on the health of individuals. Dr. Vijay Hadda, an expert in Pulmonary Medicine, notes the adverse impact on various organs, linking air pollution to severe health issues such as lung cancer, stroke, and heart attacks.
  • A grim statistic from The Lancet reveals that 18% of premature deaths in India in 2019 were attributed to air pollution.

Geographical Extent:

  • Contrary to popular belief, the issue extends beyond Delhi, permeating the entire Indo-Gangetic Plain. This expansive region, encompassing parts of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and eastern Uttar Pradesh, experiences a collective rise in pollution during winter.
  • The airshed phenomenon leads to the accumulation of pollutants from various sources, intensifying the impact.

Stubble Burning Amplification:

  • The article underscores the exacerbation of the problem during the October-November period, attributed to the practice of stubble burning.
  • While pollution sources persist throughout the year, the winter conditions, characterized by low wind speed and temperature, lead to the magnification of their effects.
  • Stubble burning, primarily done for agricultural purposes, emerges as a crucial contributor to the worsening air quality.

Government and Judicial Response:

  • The Supreme Court’s intervention and subsequent directives to halt stubble burning in key states reflect the severity of the issue.
  • The article highlights the political blame game between parties, emphasizing the need for a collective approach to address this north-centric problem. Stubble burning, a politically sensitive practice, becomes a focal point of contention and responsibility.

Farmer Dilemma:

  • The plight of farmers, caught between the urgency to prepare fields for the next crop and the environmental consequences of stubble burning, takes center stage.
  • The article presents the perspectives of farmers who, faced with limited alternatives, resort to burning crop residue.
  • Mechanization and government initiatives, while available, pose challenges of accessibility and affordability for small-scale farmers.

Environmental Impact:

  • Meteorological factors, coupled with stubble burning, create a perfect storm for heightened pollution levels.
  • The intricacies of weather conditions, such as the boundary layer’s drop and wind direction changes, contribute to the atmospheric stagnation of pollutants.
  • The article emphasizes the need for holistic solutions, considering both agricultural practices and environmental conditions.

Way Forward:

  • The reduction in stubble-burning incidents is acknowledged as a positive trend, but challenges persist.
  • Government initiatives, including subsidies for crop residue management machines, are examined. The article advocates for timely availability of affordable mechanization options and suggests exploring alternatives like promoting crop diversification to minimize dependency on stubble burning.
  • To combat the menace of stubble burning, a collective effort involving farmers, policymakers, and environmentalists is proposed. Public awareness campaigns about the environmental impact and health consequences are deemed crucial.
  • Additionally, the article advocates for exploring alternative technologies and crop management methods, ensuring a sustainable approach.