Re-utilise, treat crop residue instead of burning, says report

Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy’s action plan suggests measures to control pollution from six major sources of pollution.

To prevent the national capital from choking on large amounts of crop residue burnt every year, a Delhi-based NGO has recommended setting up of a standalone institution to incentivise farmers to use crop residue in other ways. Set up as a Special Purpose Vehicle called ‘Fasal Avshesh Upyog Nigam (FAUN)’, it aims to encourage farmers to avail benefits under existing schemes on farm mechanisation, and also purchase or temporarily hire machinery for treating crop residue.

The report – ‘Cleaning Delhi’s Air: Implementation Action Plan’ – also recommends providing the machinery free of cost at initial stage to farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana to treat crop residue. The initial cost of providing free machinery would be approximately Rs 600 crore, the report states.

It also recommends adequately paying farmers who give away their residue, through state-level agencies, by making the amount contingent on the weight of the residue so as to create an incentive. The crop residue generated every year could be used to produce marketable goods or to generate bio-mass energy.

Using the IIT Kanpur’s ‘Comprehensive Study on Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases in Delhi’ as its basis, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy’s action plan suggests measures to control pollution from six major sources of pollution. Through “innovative” recommendations, the 50-page report carries a detailed, source-wise analysis of the top pollutants that affect Delhi’s air: coal-fired power plants, vehicular pollution, burning of crop residues, fly ash from ready-mix concrete batching plants and dust from construction sites, and burning of municipal waste.

The objective of the report is to provide an “implementable solution” to curb air pollution, said Yashaswini Mittal, one of the authors and a fellow in Health, Environment and Law Initiative at the NGO. “While the reports by IIT Kanpur, CSE and the Graded Action Plan all contain measures to tackle air pollution, they do not tell us the legal and executive route through which these measures can be implemented,” she said.

The report attempts to go beyond the routine recommendations and strengthen monitoring and compliance, Mittal added. Noting that there is a significant difference in toll tax rate between the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the National Highway Authority of India for commercial trucks passing through Delhi, the report calls for rationalising the two taxes to disincentivise trucks from using Delhi as a bypass.

“We recommend uniformity in toll tax, since currently there is a huge gap between what the civic body in Delhi charges and what the National Highways Authority charges. We are also proposing ‘vehicle tags’ based on different emission standards, age, technology and fuel for vehicles plying in the city,” Mittal said.

To address pollution from vehicles and coal-based power plants, the report highlights good practices from cities in China. “Given that China faces similar demographic and budgetary constraints as India, the pollution control practices adopted by it would serve as a good model for India to follow,” the report states. It also suggests setting up a designated ‘Green Police’ force to tackle air pollution and provide a greater role to Resident Welfare Associations to monitor construction activities and report violations.


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