As Delhi chokes, Centre tells SC: Stubble burning declining

New Delhi (IANS) As Delhi-NCR chokes because of pollution, many are blaming it on stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana for it. However, the Centre has told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that crop stubble burning has declined nearly 41?tween 2016-2018 in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said it has captured data through satellite mapping, which indicates a downward trend in the incidents of stubble burning.

In the affidavit, the ministry stated that as per the analysis, paddy residue burning reduced in the Capital's neighbouring states in 2018, mapped via Satellite Remote Sensing, carried out by Consortium of Research on Agro ecosystem Monitoring and Modelling from Space (CREAMS) laboratory, which is a division of agricultural physics, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR).

"There has been a reduction of about 15% and 41% in the number of burning events in 2018, as compared to 2017 and 2016 respectively", said the affidavit.

The Centre also emphasized in 2018 there was reduction of stubble burning events -- 11% in Punjab, 29.5% in Haryana and 24.5% in Uttar Pradesh - as compared with 2017.

On October 14, the apex court had asked the Centre to submit its response and status report on the steps taken to prevent stubble burning in Capital's neighbouring states.

The Centre said during 2018-19, it disbursed 100% of its share of funds to states -- Rs 269.38 crore to Punjab, Rs 137.84 crore to Haryana, Rs 148.60 crore to Uttar Pradesh -- and Rs 28.51 crore to central agencies. These funds have been allocated for the distribution of in-situ crop residue management machinery to farmers' under subsidy.

Funds also have been marked to promote "establishment of Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) of in-situ crop residue management machinery and undertaking information, education and communication (IEC) activities for creating awareness among farmers."

The Centre reiterated stubble burning is one of the major contributors for poor and severe air quality in Delhi and NCR in October and November.

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