Stubble burning and pollution: a question of dignity and identity of farmers

stubble-burning_212167be-bae9-11e7-83cc-689513d74e1bPoonam Pandey, Govert Valkenburg, Annapurna Mamidipudi and Wiebe Bijker write:

Attempts by a range of agencies to address the issue of stubble burning in Punjab have repeatedly failed. We suggest that this is not only because we’ve missed the key explanation of the problem but also because of a far deeper cultural issue: the question of what it means to be a farmer.

We contend that it is impossible to solve the issue of stubble burning, unless we pay proper attention to the way farming communities are organised, circulate knowledge, and produce value while retaining their dignity. Only when alignment with these cultural values is addressed, can one address stubble burning as a problem of health and environmental damage.

This is not to deny the reality of the stubble burning problem. The air quality in cities such as Delhi is deteriorating with each passing day due to multiple factors including rapid and unplanned urbanisation, increasing number of cars and population growth. This gets worse with bursting of Diwali firecrackers in Delhi and the burning of straw after harvest in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. Satellite images and scientific data confirm that smoke from burning fields in Punjab deteriorate the air quality in Delhi in the month of October and November.

Read the full article in Hindustan Times

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