Stubble burning, an emerging health threat


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Stubble burning, an emerging health threat

Stubble burning has been an age-old problem in India. According to a SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research under the Central government) estimate, based on harmonizing the INSAT-3, 3D and NASA satellite, the fire counts were around 42 on September 21, 2020. This is a yearly activity that starts around mid-September and peaks by the end of October. It is an easy and cost-effective way for the poor Indian farmer to clear the stubble left over from paddy cultivation, off his field.


Stubble Burning


Delhi, which already has heavily polluted winter air also has to face the pollution from Punjab’s stubble burning which makes the air quality hazardous for normal breathing because of the high amount of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in the air. 

Stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh contributes anywhere from 17% to 78% to the particulate matter emission load in Delhi during winter. Burning of crop residues emits traces of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide and particulates which affect human health.


Coway Old Man with Mask


The land locked capital faces this problem year on year and has its residents falling ill and catching different types of allergies, respiratory diseases, respiratory track infections and other critical illnesses due to the constant exposure to polluted air. The children and elderly are most affected and have a hard time living a normal life without the availability of fresh air.


In Situ management of crops can be handled in better ways like using combine harvester machines operating without the Super Straw Management System (super SMS); using Happy Seeder; or using a Rotavator which helps cut the stubble and mixes it with the soil.

However, most farmers can not avail of this facility due to lack of financial backing. Thus, stubble burning remains the easiest, fastest and most economical solution for the farmer to get his field ready for the winter rabi (wheat) crop.


Stubble has little or no value as animal feed and thus spending on clearing it separately does not make economical sense to the farmer. There are very few biomass facilities available even in today’s time and thus the option of using it as bio mass is also ruled out.


We as individuals must take caution and must question the air, we are breathing every day. If you live in a city like Delhi you must ensure that you protect yourself and your family from such polluted air.


How do you do that? Get an air purifier.


It is the best way to ensure you are breathing clean air and is really essential in this season when pollution levels measure above 350 on the AQI (Air Quality Index). One must take this problem seriously since long term and continuous exposure can lead to life threatening and critical illnesses like asthma and even lung cancer.

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