Delhi Choking, but do not Blame Stubble Burning Alone

Prelims level : Environment Mains level : GS-III Environment & Biodiversity | Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia
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Why in News?

  • According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi has continued to be under the “very poor” category.


  • About 2.5 million air pollution-related deaths are reported every year in India.
  • Pollutants such as PM2.5 and PM10 which are small are able to enter the bloodstream affecting almost every organ in the body and causing several health issues such as stroke, heart disease, respiratory diseases and cancer.
  • Further, this issue has become a recurring phenomenon every winter in the country.

Cause of concern:

  • Various measures that have been undertaken to address this issue have not been effective but still, these measures are being adopted year after year.
  • Measures such as closing schools, advising people to stay indoors, carpooling, working from home and bans on firecrackers have not yielded the intended outcomes.
  • Blaming stubble burning in neighbouring States as the main and only reason for air pollution in Delhi when in fact the stubble burning in Delhi is of the same level as compared to other States.
  • However, the municipal body and the Public Works Department are not willing to take responsibility for it or find a solution to the issue.
  • Further, the “Happy Seeder”-based solutions which are seen as an alternative to stubble burning have also failed to produce desired results.


  • A fundamental shift in agricultural patterns is the need of the hour as unless the farmers are compensated sufficiently the problem is expected to continue. This requires some bold political decisions.
  • Despite an expansion of public transport, citizens who mainly use their own vehicles have still not moved to use the public transport system. 
  • Last-mile connectivity is said to be the main reason and efforts must be initiated to address the problem along with other problems such as overcrowding of buses and metros and the sorry state of maintenance of buses.
  • Creative and long-term solutions must be adopted such as correcting the governance structure. 
  • There is a need for setting up a single entity that takes responsibility for air quality management as the lack of an efficient system that works in a coordinated way has been a key challenge.
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