Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

@

Tackling the stubble burning menace

18 November, 2020 16:38:32
Tackling the stubble burning menace

When the North Indian states of Haryana, Delhi and Punjab are grappling with severe air pollution this winter, like every year, thanks to stubble burning, it seems Bengal is showing the way to an innovative way to tackle this menace. With the COVID-19 looming large this year over every urban city, what is important is to keep the pollution levels as low as possible. Stubble burning on acres of farm tracts across major states of North India has already shrouded the Delhi sky, with the air quality marked as ‘Very Poor.’ A similar phenomenon had started in New Town and outskirts of Kolkata since last few years, leading to severe air pollution in the area. But this year, several measures have been taken to tackle stubble burning in the adjoining areas of Kolkata, compared to our North Indian counterparts.

But why is air pollution and stubble burning a death nail for most citizens this year? As city based pulmonary disease expert Dr Baibhab Banerjee pointed out: ‘Stubble burning is dangerous in this COVID season. The virus thrives well on the particulate matter suspended in air and leads to further spread of the disease during winter. Even most patients who have asthma or COPD suffer from cold and cough more due to air pollution in winter, if stubble burningis added on, then their lung capacity is further reduced.’

North India has already shrouded the Delhi sky, with the air quality marked as ‘Very Poor.’ A similar phenomenon had started in New Town and outskirts of Kolkata since last few years, leading to severe air pollution in the area. But this year, several measures have been taken to tackle stubble burning in the adjoining areas of Kolkata, compared to our North Indian counterparts.

True to what Dr Banerjee says, Delhi has seen a sudden spike of COVID-19 cases as its air quality goes down day by day and even children are choking from it. As per Union Ministry of Health report submitted to the Parliamentary Committee acting on COVID 19, air pollution over the years has decreased the average age of Indians by 1.7 years. In 2019, around 16 lakh 70 thousand Indians died due to air pollution. The situation in Kolkata and its surroundings this winter is also not very encouraging. As per environment activist Pronob Mondal, the AQI or Air Quality Index for last few days has been below ‘Poor’ both in Kolkata and Howrah. ‘Every year, stretches across New Town, Rajarhat and EM Bypass are victims of stubble burning as well as garbage burning in places around Dhapa. This year it has to be stopped, else our fate will be same as Delhi,’ laments Mondal.

To combat the menace, New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) has taken an initiative to stop stubble burning causing environmental pollution and arrest those involved with it.A meeting was held in NKDA on November 4 presided over by Debashis Sen, Chairman of NKDA. Several initiatives have been taken up and bird watchers, NGOs, police and local residents have been included to combat the menace. To intensify the vigil a whatsapp group will be created that will work as Air Pollution Resistance Group. Different such groups will be created. The moment they find any stubble burning, they will inform the police and raise an alarm. 

As per environment activist Pronob Mondal, the AQI or Air Quality Index for last few days has been below ‘Poor’ both in Kolkata and Howrah. ‘Every year, stretches across New Town, Rajarhat and EM Bypass are victims of stubble burning as well as garbage burning in places around Dhapa. This year it has to be stopped, else our fate will be same as Delhi,’ laments Mondal.

Such local Resistance Groups had been a big hit in New Town area in bringing down thefts at night a few years ago. Anybody noticing anything while passing by or from their balconies would post the information with photos for quick action. Drone surveillance and other methods are also being contemplated. In addition, from NKDA, motorcycle owning youths have been deployed as volunteers to keep moving randomly, but systematically, so as to cover all zones and action areas at night time and day time. They are to try to identify those who burn stubbles/grasses, those who dump garbage/plastics/PPEs surreptitiously in isolated plots and those who park trucks and buses on streets illegally. Already, the photographs of people burning grass have been clicked but they could not be picked up for interrogation. The photos have been given to the local police stations. There are various theories and hypothesis as to who are doing this and why. It is said that the drug addicts burn rubbish to get metals from burnt solid wastes, construction workers make fire to ward off snakes, fishermen burn to make short cuts to water bodies, thieves burn to dig and steal underground cables and solid waste management agency staff burn to avoid going to distant Dhapa for disposal.

But whoever is behind this menace, Kolkata and its surroundings is gearing up for sure to nab the culprits and keep the air as less polluted as possible. 

Story Tag:
  • Stubble Burning , Pollution

Leave a Comments

Related Post

×