Urgent Request to Authorities to take Immediate Peremptory Steps to Prevent Stubble Burning
By: Aditya and Aman
Captain Amarinder Singh
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Punjab.
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Haryana
Mr. Arvind Kejriwal,
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi.
Subject: Urgent Request To Take Immediate Peremptory Steps to Prevent Stubble Burning During September-November, 2020
As you are aware during September-November, 2019 the Delhi-NCR and it’s adjoining regions in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh suffered the worst ever episode of air pollution. The AQI levels rose to unprecedented levels of more than 1000 and millions of citizens suffered short and long term respiratory distress. The memories of those dark days with smelly air and black skies have not faded from the minds of the citizens of Delhi-NCR.
One of the primary causes of these critical levels of AQI was the pollution caused by the thousands of stubble fires, which were lit across the states of Punjab and Haryana between September-October, 2019. The farmers who were in a hurry to prepare the land for the next sowing season and did not have access to stubble removing equipment had no other way to remove the stubble from their field except to set it on fire without thinking of the environmental consequences of the same.
Though after various public protests and intervention by the Prime Minister Office and the Hon’ble Supreme Court the three state governments had acted and tried to control the stubble burning by imposing fines etc. but it was all too little and too late and we the citizens had to suffer the full consequences of this delayed action by spending almost the entire season locked indoors and with the aid of masks and air purifiers. Worst sufferers were the children as schools had to be closed and precious academic time was lost and their lungs suffered long term damage due to exposure to high levels of air pollution. Many citizens lost their lives, as they were not able to cope with the high concentration of particulate matters in the air.
Since then various announcements have been made by the three State Governments that stubble burnings will not be allowed in 2020 and all possible steps:- like giving incentives to the farmers for not burning stubble; provision of equipment and machines for stubble removal, etc. will be taken; to ensure that stubble fires are not lit in 2020. The Hon’ble Supreme Court is also seized with this issue and has issued many directions since last year on how to prevent stubble fires. The EPCA has also made various recommendations on how to deal with the problem of stubble burning.
Now, the stubble removal season is again set to begin in September 2020 but due to the COVID Pandemic the attention of all governments and authorities has been rightly focused on how to deal with the COVID Crisis and therefore we the citizens are apprehensive as to whether all necessary steps have been taken by the three State Governments to ensure that no stubble burning takes place this year and that the farmers are provided with appropriate equipments to remove the stubble from their fields. It is relevant to state that if arrangements for stubble removal are not made in advance, then there is no way of preventing stubble fires as no amount of police action will be able to stop the farmers from setting fires to the stubble to protect their only source of livelihood.
Thus, we are writing this letter to respectfully remind you of the commitment made by you to the people of Delhi-NCR regarding the prevention of any stubble fires in Punjab and Haryana this year.
We request you to immediately act on the said assurances to ensure that we the people of Delhi-NCR do not have to suffer poisonous air pollution again this year and our country doesn’t again achieve the infamy of being one of the most polluted places in the world.
We will also like to draw your attention to the medical studies which claim that people with weak respiratory systems or living in polluted areas are liable to face more severe symptoms and even fatality due to Covid-19, thus any increase in the air pollution levels of Delhi-NCR may exponentially increase the mortality rates due to Covid-19, by compromising the respiratory systems of the citizens, mores in the case of senior citizens and children. Thus the consequences of allowing any stubble burning to take place in the times of this pandemic may well be catastrophic. We request you to keep this aspect of the problem in mind while deciding on what urgent steps are required to be taken to prevent stubble burning.
We will also be grateful if you will kindly share with us and the people as to what steps have already been taken and which steps are proposed to be taken by your State Government to ensure that no stubble burnings takes place this year, so that our apprehensions may be put to rest.
We are marking a copy of this letter to Mr. Prakash Javedkar, Hon’ble Minister for Environment and Mr. Bhure Lal, Chairman, Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority with the request that they may kindly intervene in the matter and help in coordinating the efforts of the three state governments.
We will anxiously and gratefully await a positive and early response from your side.
Aditya Dubey & Aman Banka