The massive pollution cloud enveloping northern India every year is a good example of the disconnect between official policy and ground realities. It has been known for long that burning of agricultural waste in the northern States significantly contributes to the poor air quality in large parts of the Indo-Gangetic Basin, with local and cascading(प्रपात की तरह गिरता हुआ) impacts felt from Punjab all the way to West Bengal. Harmful fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 mm in diameter (PM2.5) is among the pollutants released. Punjab responded to the issue with a prohibition(रोक) on the burning of paddy straw(भूसा), and the launch of initiatives aimed at better utilisation of biomass, including as a fuel to produce power. Yet, there is no mission mode approach to the annual crisis. The efforts do not match the scale of agricultural residues(अवशेष) produced, for one, and fail to address farmers’ anxiety(चिंता) to remove the surplus from the fields quickly to make way for the next crop. The national production of crop waste is of the order of 500 million tonnes a year, with Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and West Bengal topping the list. Again, 80 per cent of straw from paddy is burnt in some States, impacting air quality and depriving croplands of nutrients.
It is an irony that the national capital and several other cities suffer crippling(गंभीर) pollution in the post-monsoon and winter months partly due to biomass burning, when demand for fodder is rising and the surplus material could be used productively. Pilot projects to produce power using biomass demonstrated in Rajasthan, and mechanised composting and biogas production units of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute could be scaled up, and farmers given liberal support to deploy such solutions. Given the twin benefits of pollution abatement(कमी) and better productivity, conservation agriculture needs to be popularised. This would encourage farmers to use newer low-till seeding technologies that allow much of the crop residues to remain on site, and curb the release of a variety of pollutants. Burning residues add greenhouse gases that cause global warming, besides pollutants such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide that severely affect human health. Sustained(निरंतर) work is called for, given that higher agricultural productivity to meet food needs is inevitable(अनिवार्य), with a cascading increase in biomass volumes. The challenge is to identify measures to utilise it. By one estimate, if India can reach its own air quality standards for fine particulate matter from all sources, annual premature(समय से पूर्व होनेवाला) deaths can be cut by almost 10 per cent. A programme to cut pollution from waste-burning would be a good start.
1)Cascading meaning is fall in a rush, descend, gush.
2)Prohibition meaning is ban, forbidden, constraint, prevention.
3)Straw meaning is hay, fodder.
4)Anxiety meaning is angst, worry, tension, apprehension.
5)Residues meaning is leftover part, debris, slag.
6)Crippling meaning is disable, make lame, debilitate.
7)Abatement meaning is decline, decrease, lessening.
8)Sustained meaning is maintained, constant, continued.
9)Inevitable meaning is cannot be avoided, certain, impending,imminent.
10)Premature meaning is earlier in occurrence than anticipated, immature.