- Economic survey raises concerns about Air pollution & suggests measures
- Convert agricultural waste into biofuels to tackle pollution: Survey
- The survey recommended usage of Happy Seeder to curb stubble burning
New Delhi: The Economic Survey 2018, which sheds light on the policy priorities of the government, has expressed concern over air pollution in Delhi – NCR and recommended that heavy penalties should be imposed for burning agricultural waste to prevent deterioration of air quality. The 2018 survey, which was presented in Parliament on the first day of the budget session, noted that in recent years, Delhi and adjoining areas had experienced alarmingly poor air quality, especially in winters when farmers in northern India set their paddy fields on fire after harvesting the crop. Besides imposing heavy penalty on stubble burning, the survey called for a number of recommendations to tackle air pollution.
Here are top 10 recommendations suggested by Economic Survey 2018 to tackle air pollution:
- To control agricultural waste burning, the economic survey suggested the use of satellite and mobile-based applications to detect fires. “The farmers mainly from Northern India set their paddy fields on fire after harvesting and the resultant smoke, however, gets carried by winds all the way to Delhi and beyond, adding to the existing suspended particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM 10) that turns Delhi’s air toxic,” said the survey.
- The survey also called for use of technology to convert agricultural waste into usable concentrated fodder or bio-fuels, and business cases for finding uses for the crop residues such as manure to reduce fertiliser cost and generate power should be explored.
- Farmers should be incentivised for shifting to non-paddy crops. The survey noted that around 35 million tonnes of rice paddy in three adjoining states (Punjab, Haryana and Western UP) was burned in late October 2017, the plumes of which drift eastward, and together with the seasonal load from other sources, including fire crackers during Diwali (the sale of which was suspended by Supreme Court in October 9 2017 till November 1, 2017), added to Delhi’s air pollution.
- Straw Management System for rice and wheat farming should be promoted with the usage of technology called Happy Seeder machine, which sows seeds without the need to remove paddy straw.
- When it comes to vehicular air pollution which accounts for 23-28 percent of the air pollution, the survey noted that diesel particulates have higher share in the vehicular category and are especially dangerous and it also suggested the acceleration of Bharat Stage VI (BS VI) emissions norms, which is already notified and was due to be in place from 2020 across India. However, the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in November 2017 announced a 2-year advancement of the introduction of BS-VI fuel norms from April 1, 2018 in Delhi.
- The dust particles from construction activity and pollution from power plants and industrial units should also be controlled as it accounts for 19-35 percent of the total air pollution.
- The survey suggested the implementation of congestion pricing (a method used to reduce traffic by charging a fee to road users during rush hours).
- The network of public buses should be expanded and improved to reduce private vehicle usage and for connectivity to and beyond metro. The survey also recommended phasing out of old vehicles to curb vehicular air pollution.
- Different agencies and governments should coordinate with each other to prevent the national capital turning into a gas chamber, especially during winters. The solution is to address each source of pollution “systematically, one-by-one, coordinating across agencies and governments, and with sustained civic engagement,” the survey said.
- From being one of the biggest littering items to choking water bodies to threatening marine life, plastic waste is one of the biggest menaces and needs serious attention.