One of the prominent demands of agitating farmers in India is to repeal the Commission on Air Quality Management in NCR, and The Adjoining Ordinance 2020. With a broader aim to curb pollution in the Delhi NCR region, the Union government had set up this commission in November 2020.
Several reports claim that burning of stubble over the farms of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Uttarakhand had contributed to more than 40% of air pollution levels in Delhi during November 2019. A NASA research published in July 2018 through their satellite‐ and ground‐based observations confirm that crop residue burning in the north and the northwestern regions of India have been biggest contributor to the disastrous air pollution levels in Delhi NCR region.
The Correlation between the ongoing Farmers Protest and Delhi NCR’s Air Pollution, Explained.
Stubble burning – A Necessity or a Forced Act?
This stubble is the major cause of air pollution during the winter months of November and December in Delhi. The farmers of Punjab claim that they have been burning stubble for many years. Reason: If it is left to decompose on its own, the paddy residue takes nearly two months to decompose during which time they will not be able to sow the next crop. “It is unsuitable for use as animal fodder as it has low nutritional value. On the other hand, it doesn’t just save intensive labor and is much more economical, but is also an efficient way to prepare soil bed for the next crop.”, says Kumar Pawan a farmer from Abohar, Punjab.
Watch: Why Farmers are forced to burn Stubble
Terming the law as “brutal”, Lal Manohar, farmer from Haryana called for the immediate repeal of the Commission on Air Quality Management in NCR and its Adjoining Ordinance 2020. “Delhi NCR suffers with the problem of pollution throughout the year and we burn the stubble merely once in a year. The biggest reason for the pollution is heavy traffic and industries that create those catastrophic levels of pollution and not just the burning of stubble. We can’t accept such enormous fines and will continue to fight for our right and the black laws imposed by the Modi government, says Lal Manohar, farmer from Haryana”.
“The Union government had promised funds for the purchase of agri-equipment to manage the paddy straw, but never fulfilled the promised Budget announcements that were made by the then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in 2018”, adds Kumar Pawan.
We can’t accept such enormous fines and will continue to fight for our right and the black laws imposed by the Modi government.A farmer part of the ongoing agitation
Why was the Ordinance promulgated?
The residents of Delhi NCR are compelled to follow the odd-even rule every year owing to the catastrophic levels of air pollution. As per, Air Quality researcher Polash Mukherjee, satellite images from central and southern India depict the impact on local climate owing to the burning of crop residue in these parts.
Created in 1985 for strategic development of the National Capital Region; that consists of several districts surrounding Delhi from the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the government had established The NCR and the associated National Capital Region Planning Board. Through the 2020 Ordinance, the Centre had eventually dissolved the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the NCR.
Watch: Indian Government’s new law to tackle Air Pollution in NCR
What is Air Quality Index?
Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index that measures the level of pollutants in the air on a daily basis. It is an indication of the level of toxic elements in the air, that affects an individual’s health over a period. In India, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for determining the AQI for five major air pollutants that impact public and individual health, causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases among other scourges of this era.
PM2.5 concentration in India in 2019 was almost 5 times higher than what is considered as an acceptable exposure to such small air pollutants. In 2019, as part of a worldwide Air Pollution survey, 21 out of the 30 most polluted cities were in India, including Delhi NCR, that pushed India’s ranking to 5th place.You will find more infographics at Statista
The State of the Protest
Several lawmakers in the United States have voiced their support for farmers protesting against the new farm laws and urged that they be allowed to protest peacefully. Congressman Doug LaMalfa said that he stands in solidarity with the farmers of India who are protesting against the manipulative government regulations. Congressman T J Cox has also extended his support towards the right to peaceful demonstration by Indian farmers.You will find more infographics at Statista
Tons of donations in the form of food is being sent to these farmers, from supporters across the country. Now after almost a fortnight of protests, the farmers seem in no mood to budge until the Indian government repeals the new laws. As a nation with one of the highest suicides rates in the agricultural sector, it now remains to be seen how soon the deadlock is likely to end.