With the farmers agitation in Punjab reaching its peak, a delegation of farmers met central ministers in Delhi to put forth their demands. One of their key demand is to cancel the fines levied for stubble burning and set the jailed farmers free. Stringent anti-pollution laws violation carry a jail term of up to 5 years and fine of up to 1 crore. For the urban Indian, these demands appear shocking and horrific. It is however no secret that crop burning is done without any quilt or remorse in most parts of the farm belt. Why is this issue so polarising and is there a way out.
Crop burning or stubble burning is done to clear the farm land after harvest. It is an ancient practice which instantly sends the pollution levels spiking in Delhi NCR leaving the residents gasping and choking to death. Especially vulnerable are children and elderly who face drops in immunity levels and all sorts of complications. Even adults find it difficult to go about their daily routine going out to work. This season as everyone discovered that the impact of COVID worsened because the virus affects the lungs and breathing mechanism of the body leading to a spike of cases and the so called third wave of infections. The top court of the country has acknowledged that the situation is bad. Govt kicked in action a slew of measures locally but the problem of stubble burning remains, largely untouched.
Technology is the key
Farmers are a privilege group. Their efforts feed the nation. They do not pay taxes and usually have their way whenever there is a controversy. But this time they have dipped their hands in the wrong basket. It is the sheer idioticity of their demands which will lead to their downfall. Technology and changes have been offered to them, while they continue rejecting them citing various reasons. For how long will they ignore real dangers. If giving up stubble burning is economically unviable then please give up farming and farm land and make way for someone who can, the modern way. Their demands seems more like blackmail which the vast majority may not agree.
From the famers perspective, after paddy is harvested there is a small window of 15-20 days within which they have to clear their farms to sow wheat. Burning the leftover is the quickest and most cheapest alternative. State Governments have invested massive money and effort in providing alternatives to farmers. But the one biggest factor which is lacking is a coordinated push from all agencies involved. From sowing and harvesting machines to the bio degradable PUSA, everything has been offered to the farmers. The time has come for farmers to shrug off their insensitivity and contribute their part in saving nature.