Stubble burning can exacerbate COVID state of affairs in north India: Expert

Chandigarh, September 20

The stubble burning which is prone to begin later this month forward of the Rabi crop sowing season can exacerbate the Coronavirus disaster, an agricultural-cum-environment knowledgeable has cautioned.

“If alternate arrangements to stubble burning are not made, pollutants like particulate matters and toxic gases like Carbon Monoxide and Methane could give rise to severe respiratory problems, which will further worsen the COVID 19 situation, as the Coronavirus also impacts the respiratory tract,” Sanjeev Nagpal, additionally an adviser to the Union and the Punjab governments on the crop residue administration, advised PTI on Sunday.

“Last year, nearly 50,000 cases of stubble burning were reported in Punjab. Stubble burning contributes about 18 to 40 per cent of particulate matter to atmosphere in northern plains. It also emits large amounts of toxic pollutants like Methane, Carbon Monoxide and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,” mentioned Nagpal, additionally the MD of Sampurn Agri Ventures Pvt Ltd (SAVPL).

Last 12 months’s stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana had contributed to 44 per cent of the air pollution in NCR Delhi, in response to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the Ministry of Earth Science.

Nagpal mentioned stubble burning causes not solely huge air air pollution but additionally impacts the soil well being, which is already in a foul form in Punjab.

The apply of stubble burning mixed with extreme use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers over time has resulted within the lower of soluble silica, carbon and different important vitamins within the soil, he mentioned.

“Silicon (Si) is one of the most prevalent soil macro-elements, performing an essential function in healing plants in response to environmental stress. The loss of soluble silica in the soil has given rise to silica deficiency in humans exposing people to a greater threat of COVID 19 and other diseases,” Nagpal mentioned.

“Insufficient amounts of silica in humans reduce their immune response towards viruses and pathogens,” he added.

Punjab alone produces over 55 metric tons of crop residues every year out of which over 40 per cent have been discovered surplus, he mentioned.

Nagpal mentioned the decision lies in giant scale assortment of crop residue from farmers at a worth by varied vegetation and state governments, its storage, after which utilizing know-how for its conversion into natural manure and likewise biogas.

Nagpal’s SAVPL venture in Punjab’s Fazilka has devised this know-how in affiliation with IIT and PAU, Ludhiana. The venture had bought about 10,000 MTs of paddy straw final 12 months which benefitted round 500 farmers, he claimed.

The plant is making eight MTs of silica manure per day now towards a complete capability of 25 MTs per day, he mentioned, including the capability of the venture is to course of 15,000 MTs of crop residue yearly.

“Our concept is to process stubble to make silica-rich manure that will improve soil health and food quality thereby improving people’s health. We want the Punjab government to give a fillip to the model of ‘crop residue management through its conversion into manure so that it is replicated across the state,” mentioned Nagpal.

“This will not only solve the stubble burning problem but will also help produce healthy food thereby helping farmers get better prices for quality food and consumers a chance to buy directly from farmers at a reasonable price,” he mentioned. — PTI

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