6:53 pm - Monday November 18, 2019

दिल्ली मैं दीवाली पर यह नया प्रदूषण क्यों हो रहा है ?

दिल्ली मैं दीवाली पर यह नया प्रदूषण क्यों हो रहा है ?

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हाल ही मैं जब उच्चतम नयायालय ने दिल्ली के प्रदुषण पर जब कड़े शब्दों का प्रयोग किया व् पराली जलाने पर प्रतिबन्ध की बात की तो यह बात तूल पकड़ गयी . इसके पहले जब उच्चतम न्यायलय ने दिल्ली में पटाखों पर रोक लगाई थी तो भी उसकी व्यापक भर्त्सना हुयी थी की सिर्फ हिन्दू त्योहारों पर न्यायालय क्यों दखल देते हैं ? प्रश्न जो अब सब सोच रहे हैं की खेतों मैं पराली तो हमारे किसान सदा से ही जलाते आये हैं क्यों की यह सबसे सस्ता तरीका है और खेतों मैं कुछ पोटाशियम भी मिल जाता है . आदिवासी इलाकों मैं तो जंगल का एक भाग जलाने की परम्परा रही है . दीवाली पर पटाखे भी सदा से जलते आये हैं . परन्तु पिछले दो तीन सालों से दीवाली के बाद अचानक धुंध क्यों छा जाती है . यह धुंध दिल्ली ही नहीं बल्कि इस वर्ष देहरादून से लाहोर तक थी . इस बारे मैं तीन लेख उद्धृत किये जा रहे हैं . पाठक उन्हें स्वयं पढ़ लें . पंजाब मैं चावल ट्यूब वेल से उगाना अब बहुत खतरनाक हो गया है क्योंकि भूमि के अन्दर का जल स्तर बहुत नीचे चला गया है . इसलिए पंजाब सरकार ने कुछ कदम उठाये जो ठीक ही लगते

हैं . परन्तु सबसे खतरना क विश्लेषण भारत के खाद्यान्नों मैं आत्मनिर्भरता से मोसंतो जैसी कंपनियों को होने वाला घाटा है . उनके दबाब मैं ऐसे कदम उठाये जा रहे हैं जो हमारे खाद्यान्नों का उत्पादन कम कर देंगे .
पाठक स्वयं इन तीन लेखों को पढ़ कर फैसला करें .

USAID, Monsanto and the real reason behind Delhi’s horrific smoke season

From The Sunday Guardian:
The Delhi metropolitan area has one of the world’s highest concentrations of population, and suffocating people here on an annual basis should be treated as a crime against humanity, especially when it can be controlled. Arvind Kumar writes on the connection between USAID, Monsanto and Delhi’s nightmarish annual air pollution spike.

NOTE: The author has published a follow-up article which covers further revelations as well as the political response to this expose. You can read it here. Also read Monsanto’s response to the articles, as well as the author’s rebuttal.

Arvind Kumar, Sunday Guardian Live

Until a few years ago, when farmers in Punjab burnt the remnants of the rice crops in their fields in preparation for sowing wheat, the smoke from such fires was confined to Punjab.

According to a publication of the Indian Council of Social Science Research(external link) published in 1991, ‘At the end of September and in early October, it becomes difficult to travel in the rural areas of Punjab because the air is thick with the smoke of burning paddy straw.’

Clearly, farmers burnt the straw in late September and early October. However, in recent years, farmers have delayed the burning until late October.

This delay is crucial and responsible for the smoke being carried all the way to Delhi. An analysis of the wind flow patterns (external link) reveals that wind blows into Delhi primarily from the west during the monsoon season, but changes direction in October and starts blowing into Delhi from the north.

The decision to delay the clearing of the fields was not the choice of farmers, but was forced on them by the Punjab government which passed the Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act (external link) in 2009.

According to this law, farmers could no longer sow rice in April, but had to wait until the middle of June. Rice has a 120-day period between germination and harvest, and the restriction on sowing means that the fields would be harvested and cleared only in October by which time the direction of wind would have changed.

Delhi’s problem of being covered by smoke started right after this law was implemented.

Before this law was passed, the problem in Delhi was limited to vehicular and industrial pollution and there were no reports of the entire metropolitan area being enveloped by smoke.

This piece of legislation was passed ostensibly to preserve groundwater, the depletion of which was blamed on rice fields which supposedly used too much water and which were prone to evaporation, but this argument is a very tenuous one.

According to the International Water Management Institute, water in rice fields contributes to recharging the groundwater (external link) and very little of it is lost to evaporation.

The data from Uttar Pradesh in IWMI’s report too shows that rice fields in the state contributed to increasing the level of the water table, thus supporting the claim that water in rice fields replenishes the aquifers.

The group that has been primarily responsible for exerting pressure to move away from growing rice in the name of ‘crop diversification’ is the United States Agency for International Development.

Over a period of several years, it has used the excuse of preventing the decline of groundwater (external link) to push this agenda.

USAID has a worldwide reputation of behaving like a front group for American multinational corporations such as Monsanto, and so it should come as no surprise that Monsanto is at the forefront of the purported solution for Punjab’s problems.

Apparently, if farmers stop growing rice and replace it with Monsanto’s GMO maize, the problem will be solved.

India’s surplus food grain supply is an uncomfortable fact for Monsanto and other proponents of GMO food who insist that the world would face a shortage of food grains if not for genetically engineered plants sold by Monsanto.

It is in this light that one must view Monsanto’s collusion with the Punjab government and their joint efforts targeting the production of rice in India.

In 2012, then Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal asked Monsanto to set up a research centre for creating maize seeds and announced plans (external link) to reduce the area under the cultivation of rice by around 45 percent in order to grow maize.

Monsanto typically co-opts not only politicians but also members of the academia and converts them into its shills.

Little wonder then that the fear-mongering about the cultivation of rice reached a feverish pitch a few years back in the form of a campaign advertisement (external link) from a group of ’eminent scientists’ who appealed, ‘Chonne hetho rakba katao, Pani Bachao, Punjab Bachao (Reduce the area under rice, save water, save Punjab).’

Monsanto now offers the replacement of rice by its GMO crops as a solution that will increase the level of subsoil water, but the multinational corporation is the cause of the problem.

Its fertilisers and pesticides have accumulated in the ground over the years and this has led to poor retention of moisture in the soil, (external link) leading farmers to pump excessive amounts of underground water.

The new law reducing the time period during which farmers are permitted to grow rice has further accentuated this problem. Farmers had developed their own method of crop diversification by growing multiple varieties of rice and staggering the time of sowing these varieties over a period of two months beginning in April.

The loss of the ability of farmers to easily diversify their rice crop combined with the fact that late sown rice is vulnerable to diseases and pests has created a fear in farmers of losing their crop leading them to use greater amounts of pesticides and fertilisers further degrading the soil and its ability to retain water.

Monsanto’s GMO products are known to cause several problems. Its maize is known for killing bees (external link) leading to a shortage of seeds of plants such as onions which depend on bees for pollination.

Several European countries have banned its maize as its pollen has been responsible for killing entire colonies of bees.

Monsanto’s GMO maize is also not fit for human consumption and is primarily used as chicken feed. Likewise, most of Monsanto’s wheat is used to feed animals because it is unfit for human consumption.

Thus the government’s plan to replace the cultivation of rice — which is the staple food for a large section of the population of India — by Monsanto’s chicken feed is a cynical move that will result in government created food shortages in the country.

The problems related to the low levels of groundwater and the inability of the soil to retain moisture must be solved, but the solution should not be a drastic one such as creating famines by banning food items such as rice.

Before the level of groundwater fell in Punjab, the state experienced a problem of water-logging which was partially solved by pumping out the excess groundwater.

Thus, it is clear that an acceptable level of the water table can be maintained by finding a proper balance between the two extreme situations.

Today, farmers burn the residual straw from the cultivation of rice as it is the cheapest method of clearing the fields. A ban on such burning will destroy the livelihood of small farmers and give way to industrial farming with a few large corporations such as Monsanto owning all the land and resources.

The government has already helped large corporations through a slew of measures and it must not take any more steps that run the small farmers out of business.

Instead, if it wants to prevent burning, it must help small farmers clear the fields between the rice and wheat seasons and implement proper water management solutions.

This would mean going against the rules set forth by the World Trade Organisation which has mandated that no business other than American multinational corporations can receive aid or subsidies from the government, and any subsidy given to American businesses will be done under the cover of ‘research grants’ funnelled through universities.

India should completely ignore these rules and fix its problems, not the least of which is the yearly phenomenon of smoke cover over Delhi.

The Delhi metropolitan area has one of the highest concentrations of population in the world, and suffocating the people of the area on an annual basis should be treated as a crime against humanity, especially when the cause for such suffocation can be controlled.

Although smoke from fields remaining within Punjab is also a problem that needs to be dealt with, it is not as severe a problem as in Delhi, as the smoke in Punjab would be spread over a larger area with a much lower population density.

For now, a step that should be taken immediately in order to prevent Delhi from becoming a gas chamber for several days every November, is to revoke what should rightfully be called the Monsanto Profit Act of 2009 and farmers should be allowed to sow their rice crop whenever they deem it fit to do so.

Arvind Kumar is an expert on technology and economic issues and can be reached at arvind@classical-liberal.net

Delhi air pollution: Did law to delay crop sowing result in stubble burning cases in Punjab, Haryana?

Air pollution and smog continue to cover the Delhi skies for several days now. Crop burning in Punjab and Haryana continues unabated and it is likely to be so till November 15.

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Manjeet Sehgal

stubble burning

A farmer burns paddy stubble in Hisar district of Haryana. (PTI photo)

Even as Delhi continues to battle a thick smog and hazardous pollution for days, stubble burning continues unabated in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. Paddy harvesting season is at its peak in the two states and it will last till November 15.

Reports suggest that the number of stubble burning cases in Punjab this year has risen by 25 per cent. This also implies that the claims made by the Punjab government about stopping farmers from burning farm waste are far from the truth.

Nearly 28,000 machines have been provided by the state government to farmers on subsidy, which has also failed to bring down the rampant straw burning.

In Punjab’s Mohali, India Today TV came across 65-year-old farmer Dharam Singh who was trying to clear his field by burning the farm waste.

Dharam Singh tells us that he is already under a huge debt and has raised Rs 16 lakh with bank loans. Singh is not in a position to buy any machines to get rid of the stubble and is left with the only option to set fire to the crop leftover.

Interestingly, Dharam Singh is also not the beneficiary of the state government’s loan waiver scheme.

“We know that burning paddy stubble is injurious to health and environment but we have no resources to manage the farm waste with machines. Burning paddy straws is a compulsion,” says Dharam Singh.

Did law to delay crop sowing result in paddy straw burning cases?

There are apprehensions that a law passed by the Punjab government in 2009 asking farmers to delay paddy sowing swelled the number of paddy burning cases.

The Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act of 2009 imposed a delay on farmers to plant paddy nursery. The idea was to discourage farmers from sowing paddy and to improve the water table. The state government by enacting this law also wanted to divert the farmers towards cash crops like cotton, maize and basmati rice which not only require less water but are also environment friendly.

Well-known agriculture expert Devinder Sharma blames over-mechanisation of Punjab agriculture for the paddy straw burning problem.

“Most of the crop harvesting in Punjab is being done by machines. The Punjab government is now asking farmers to buy six more machines to stop them from burning farm waste which is not justified. Compelling farmers to take loans to buy machines will only burden them further. The best way to discourage them from burning crop residue is to compensate them by paying at least Rs 100 per quintal,” says Devinder Sharma.

When questioned whether the delayed paddy crop plantations resulted in farm waste burning, Sharma said no. He has also demanded a comprehensive scientific study to ascertain the role of straw burning in New Delhi’s smog problem.

Director of Agriculture Department of Punjab, Sutantar Kumar Airi says the Punjab Subsoil Water Preservation Act is not responsible for crop burning instances which has not only improved the water table but also brought down the area under paddy cultivation by 3.8 lakh hectares.

“The total area under paddy cultivation in 2018, which was 31.3 lakh hectares, has been brought down to 27.92 lakh hectares in 2019. Farmers have been asked to switch to basmati rice farming, which is not only lucrative but its straws are consumed by the cattle and are not burnt,” says Sutantar Kumar Airi.

Meanwhile, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday reminded the Union government to provide financial assistance of Rs 100 per quintal to each paddy farmer, enabling them to manage the farm residue scientifically.

The smoke emanated by the stubble burning has become a contentious issue between the chief ministers of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar posted on Twitter a satellite image purportedly showing less crop residue burning cases in Haryana and blamed Punjab for the smog that is choking Delhi.

Delhi pollution: NASA images show spike in stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana

Delhi pollution:The Air Quality of Delhi has slipped to “severe” category post-Diwali. On Thursday, the overall AQI stood at 471 in the national capital

twitter-logo BusinessToday.In   New Delhi     Last Updated: October 31, 2019  | 14:42 IST

Delhi pollution: NASA images show spike in stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana

Delhi pollution: According to SAFAR, the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution rose to 35 per cent on Wednesday, the season’s highest

US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released multiple pictures of crop residue burning in Punjab and Haryana from October 21 to October 29.  NASA’s satellite images show a dramatic increase in stubble burning in Delhi’s neighboring states-Punjab and Haryana in last eight days.

The rise in stubble burning and burning of firecrackers during Diwali have deteriorated air quality in Delhi.

The Air Quality of Delhi has slipped to “severe” category post-Diwali. On Thursday, the overall AQI stood at 471 in the national capital, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, SAFAR.

Twenty-two of the 37 air quality monitoring stations across Delhi recorded air quality in severe category on Thursday morning.

According to SAFAR, the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution rose to 35 per cent on Wednesday, the season’s highest.

Weather experts said the pollution in the city aggravated due to an unfavourable wind speed.

Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Admi Party government has identified five “critically polluted” areas after examining pollution data and asked the municipal corporation to intensify actions at these locations.

The “critically polluted” areas are Wazirpur, Anand Vihar, Ashok Vihar, Vivek Vihar and Bawana.

Further, the Delhi government will also distribute 50 lakh N95 masks among school students, said CM Kejriwal.

Kejriwal, on Thursday, directed all schools in Delhi to suspend outdoor activities. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the decision to shut schools would be taken “when the need arises”.

In November 2017, the government had shut schools for a few days due to poor air quality.

 

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