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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. “Stubble burning destroys fodder, pollutes the air, causes respiratory diseases and worsens greenhouse”. In light of this statement discuss issues associated with Stubble Buring in India and suggest a way forward. (250 Words)

    17 Oct, 2022 GS Paper 1 Geography


    • Introduce by defining Stubble Burning.
    • Discuss the issues associated with stubble burning.
    • Describe steps taken to combat stubble burning.
    • Give some examples of some government initiatives to combat stubble burning.
    • Conclude accordingly.


    • Stubble (parali) burning is a method of removing paddy crop residues from the field to sow wheat from the last week of September to November, coinciding with the withdrawal of southwest monsoon.
    • Stubble burning is a process of setting on fire the straw stubble, left after the harvesting of grains, like paddy, wheat, etc. It is usually required in areas that use the combined harvesting method which leaves crop residue behind.
    • It is a common practice in October and November across Northwest India, but primarily in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.


    • Issues related to Stubble Burning on Environment:
      • Pollution:
        • Emits large amounts of toxic pollutants in the atmosphere which contain harmful gases like methane (CH4), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile Organic compounds (VOC) and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
        • These pollutants disperse in the surroundings, may undergo a physical and chemical transformation and eventually adversely affect human health by causing a thick blanket of smog.
      • Soil Fertility:
        • Burning husk on the ground destroys the nutrients in the soil, making it less fertile.
      • Heat Penetration:
        • The heat generated by stubble burning penetrates into the soil, leading to the loss of moisture and useful microbes.
    • Steps can be taken to combat Stubble Burning:
      • In-Situ Treatment of Stubble: For example, crop residue management by zero-tiller machine and Use of bio-decomposers.
      • Ex-Situ (off-site) Treatment: For example, Use of rice straw as cattle fodder.
      • Use of Technology- For example, Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) machine, which can uproot the stubble and also sow seeds in the area cleared. The stubble can then be used as mulch for the field.
      • An expansion of schemes like the MGNREGA for harvesting and composting of parali.
        • An integrated regenerative rural development model of narwa (rivulet regeneration), garuwa (cattle conservation), ghuruwa (composting) and baari (kitchen garden) through a participatory process using MGNREGA.
      • Small and marginal farmers, especially, need support for adoption of in-situ strategies, to mulch the straw into the soil and not burn it. Penalty without access to solutions does not work.
    • Government initiatives to tackle stubble burning:
      • The State Governments of Punjab, National Capital Region (NCR) States and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) have developed detailed monitorable action plans based on the framework by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to tackle the problem of air pollution.
      • An innovative experiment has been undertaken by the Chhattisgarh government by setting up gauthans.
      • A gauthan is a dedicated five-acre plot, held in common by each village, where all the unused stubble is collected through parali daan (people’s donations) and is converted into organic fertiliser by mixing with cow dung and few natural enzymes.


    As we know, burning stubble destroys a helpful raw material, pollutes the air, causes respiratory diseases and worsens greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the need of the hour is to make constructive use of stubble as animal feed and further utilise technology by enabling various alternatives like Turbo-Happy Seeder Machine and Bio-Decomposer etc.

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