- Title: Blame game begins as India's crop burning season starts, air quality worsens
- Date: 18th October 2019
- Summary: SHIMLA MAULANA VILLAGE, HARYANA, INDIA (OCTOBER 16, 2019) (REUTERS) "CROP STUBBLE" (STUBBLE LEFT AFTER HARVESTING) BURNING SMOKE RISING FROM BURNING CROP STUBBLE WOMAN CLEARING CROP STUBBLE IN BURNING FIELD SMOKE RISING VARIOUS OF FARMER, DHARAM PAL, CLEARING HIS FIELD (SOUNDBITE) (Hindi) FARMER FROM SHIMLA MAULANA VILLAGE, DHARAM PAL, SAYING: "The only solution (to the problem of stubble burning by farmers) is that the government should take some concrete steps. When a landlord harvests his crop, then the government should make arrangements to pick up the stubble from the fields. They should take the responsibility and come out with a systematic plan about what to do with the stubble, where to place it and all." COMBINE HARVESTER CUTTING RICE CROP AND LEAVING STUBBLE BEHIND POINT OF VIEW OF HARVESTER CUTTING CROP HARVESTER BLOWING OUT REMNANTS OF CROP VARIOUS OF SMOKE BILLOWING OUT OF BURNING CROP STUBBLE RAJPUR VILLAGE, HARYANA, INDIA (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) CAMEL CARTS MOVING ON THE ROAD CAMEL GROUP OF FARMERS SITTING IN THE FIELD (SOUNDBITE) (Hindi) FARMER FROM RAJPUR VILLAGE, DILBAG SINGH, SAYING: "First we have to make the full payment from our own pocket, only after that can we get some subsidy. We have to get everything in writing from so many people - from the shopkeeper, from the government official, we have to keep running from one person to another and still don't know when we will get the subsidy money. Even after we have everything in writing, the shopkeeper keeps some money, the official also eats some money. So, it's not that easy to get the subsidy." FARMER, NARAYAN SINGH, SMOKING A WATER PIPE KNOWN AS HOOKAH (SOUNDBITE) (Hindi) FARMER FROM RAJPUR VILLAGE, NARAYAN SINGH, SAYING: "There is so much traffic, so many factories that emit so much smoke. There is so much rush and crowds in Delhi. A single individual (can) own six cars over there. Earlier there used to be stubble burning in entire Haryana but there were no complaints from Delhi about pollution because of this - so how come now this pollution is because of stubble burning in Haryana?" DELHI-HARYANA BORDER, INDIA (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) TRAFFIC AT HARYANA-DELHI BORDER, WITH BOARD READING (Hindi and English): "WELCOME TO DELHI" NEW DELHI, INDIA (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) TRAFFIC ON A SMOG-ENGULFED DELHI ROAD (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW DELHI RESIDENT, ADITI MAZUMDAR, SAYING: "The government must do something about it because it is becoming very difficult day-by-day to breathe and this is something which is very basic. So, definitely somebody, at least the government, should do something." TRAFFIC ON A ROAD IN FRONT OF INDIAN PRESIDENTIAL PLACE DOME OF PRESIDENTIAL PLACE SHROUDED IN SMOG TRAFFIC ON SMOG-ENGULFED ROAD (MUTE) TIMELAPSE OF SETTING SUN IN SMOGGY SKY
- Embargoed: 1st November 2019 09:30
- Keywords: Sonepat Rajpur pollution Panipat Haryana smog New Delhi harvest Shimla Maulana village Stubble burning
- Location: HARYANA / NEW DELHI, INDIA
- City: HARYANA / NEW DELHI, INDIA
- Country: India
- Topics: Pollution,Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA001B1MGS3R
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Farmers living on the outskirts of New Delhi were busy clearing their paddy fields in October in preparation for the sowing season - and in the process they are torching the residue left behind, the so-called 'crop stubble', and sending thick plumes of smoke into the air.
Every year, at this time, the smoke from the fields combines with urban pollution from vehicles and industry to make New Delhi the world's most-polluted capital, even as a $160-million federal initiative to stop the burning of crop waste fails to make a dent.
To fight Delhi's winter pollution, the authorities wanted to stamp out the practice of burning crop stubble as an immediate goal, while grappling with longer-term solutions of improving public transport to curb the use of vehicles in a city with a population of over 20 million.
They offered to pick up as much as 80% of the cost of machines that dispose of the paddy stalks and straw without burning them. These "happy seeders" are mounted on tractors used for sowing of wheat as the winter crop.
But very few farmers from the state of Haryana, neighbouring New Delhi, said they had used the machines.
Dharam Pal, a farmer in Shimla Maulana village, 100 km (62 miles) from Delhi said individual farmers or landlords were not in a position to bear the additional expense of procuring expensive machines to process the farm stubble, so the government must take the responsibility to dealing with the crop residue.
"They should take the responsibility and come out with a systematic plan about what to do with the stubble, where to place it and all," Pal said.
Crop straw and stubble burning accounts for nearly one-quarter of Delhi's air pollution which tends to worsen in winter because a sharp drop in wind speed causes pollutants to be be suspended in the air for longer.
Farmers said that the push to wean them away from burning the residue is being thwarted by red tape and corruption.
Under the subsidy scheme, individual farmers can claim back 50% of the cost of machines while a group of growers, or farmers' cooperatives, are entitled for up to 80% of the cost.
"Even after we have everything in writing, the shopkeeper keeps some money, the official also eats some money. So, it's not that easy to get the subsidy," said Dilbag Singh, a farmer from Rajpur village.
Bureaucrats, meanwhile, believe the fault lies with the farmers, and subsidies alone are not the answer. An official from the federal agriculture ministry told Reuters that the farmers' mindset and behaviour need to change.
But farmers said the time needed between clearing the land and the sowing season is too short for them to be thinking of Delhi's pollution. After harvesting rice in late September, farmers have to plant wheat and rapeseed by mid or late October to ensure sufficient crop yields.
So like clockwork, every October as New Delhi's skies get clouded over in smog, one thing is clear - the blame game for who is responsible has only yet begin, again.
(Production: Bhushan Kumar, Sunil Kataria, Travis Teo)
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