The Budget Considers Air Pollution Reduction for the First Time

Being a menace to the Delhi residents for quite some time, Delhi smog succeeded to grab the attention of our Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley. He put forward a particular scheme in the Union Budget 2018 to overcome ill-effects of stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Delhi. He stated that a “special scheme would be implemented to support Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi NCT to address this and subsidise machinery for management of crop residue.”

The scheme is framed to enable the Union Government to aid the State Governments in setting up an in-situ machinery framework for effective disposal of crop residue without harming the environment.
Delhi’s air quality index has started to degrade since the end of September 2017, with both PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels hitting the brim.

The deadly smog surrounding the city also depends on its neighbouring states and how they handle stubble burning. Despite the claims of both Haryana and Punjab government of holding awareness camps in villages and offering subsidies to farmers; local reports are contradictory. Reports showed a continual burning of crop residue by farmers and failure of execution of Government policies. Going by the satellite images, crop residue fires have intensified since October 2017. Wind direction images are affirmative of the same.

A comprehensive study on stubble burning by “Down To Earth” showed that PM emissions from crop residue burning in a year are more than 17 times the total annual PM pollution in Delhi from all common sources such as factories, vehicles, garbage incineration, etc. Studies also revealed that the national emission of carbon and Sulphur Dioxides per year from stubble burning is five times higher than the total amount of carbon and Sulphur Dioxides emission in Delhi.

To conclude, Mr.Jaitley’s concern is entirely valid, and with the inclusion of the scheme in the Union Budget, soon we can expect a decrease in stubble burning.

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