Fines Fail to Deter Stubble Burning
16, Oct 2018
Prelims level : Mains level : G.S – III Environmental Degradation
Why in News?
- The Centre and the States — Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh — have in several meetings through the year declared a “zero tolerance” policy on the burning of stubble for farmers.
- Between September 27 and October 14, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) imposed ₹8,92,500 as fines — or “environmental compensation cess” as it is officially called — on farmers burning paddy stubble. However, they collected only ₹3,05,000, according to figures from the organisation.
Reason for the Fail:
- The fines are collected over time frequently the farmers don’t have money to immediately pay them. The Centre and the States — Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh — have in several meetings through the year declared a “zero tolerance” policy on the burning of stubble for farmers, which, according to various studies, contributes anywhere from 17% to 78% to the particulate matter-emission load in the city during winter.
- To discourage farmers in Punjab and Haryana — who are responsible for the bulk of such fires — the government has also disbursed ₹591 crore to these States to sell subsidised farm implements that can do away with stubble without having to burn them.
- Sometimes, due to farmers protest, sometimes they plead innocence and sometimes poverty made them failed to collect the fine.
- Despite a vigorous focus by governments on making mechanised farm implements — combine harvesters-cum-straw management system, seed drillers, rotary harvesters — available to farmers, it’s still inaccessible to many farmers with landholdings less than 5 acres or those not rich enough to invest in such machines.
- Delayed rains have shrunk the window further and different regions in Punjab have different harvesting times, in keeping with subtle weather differences.
- Then there’s the spike in diesel prices. Deploying the machines uses up nearly 5 litres of diesel per acre.