Stubble Burning and Air Pollution in Punjab (A Sociological Exploration)

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Dr. Jasleen Kewlani Rambani


The world is experiencing many environmental alterations. Most of these changes are driven by human actions resulting into degradation in the environmental rubrics. A consistent need has been realized to check environmental degradation and depletion in environmental resources. Some major environmental issues affecting human life standards are water pollution; air pollution; deforestation; soil erosion; climatic changes and the changes in the rise in temperature and the like. Air pollution affects human life; especially physical as well as mental health. There are multiple factors behind increasing air pollution and decline in the Air Quality Index (AQI) of various regions. The present paper aims at understanding various reasons behind air pollution in the state of Punjab, India. The major focus of the present paper is the issue of the agricultural practice of ‘Stubble/ Straw Burning; which is directly resulting into lowering of the air quality. The paper is based on primary as well secondary sources of data and information.  An analytical follow up of ‘farm fires incidents’ features prominently in the work.  The findings of the paper state that there is a need that the farmers with small holdings and also other farmers needs to be paid a viable amount to manage crop residue, that too ‘in time’ depending upon the factor of ‘seasonality in cropping patterns’; so that the residues are not burnt in the farms openly without being regulated. In addition, there is a need to sensitize people on understanding that practices like stubble/ straw burning cause irreparable losses to the farmers themselves and their family and specially their coming generations in terms of their physical health. Further, it has been proposed that a law on agricultural practices is exclusively made so that is directly deals with practices resulting into threats to sustainability and people’s right to live in healthy environment. Clarity in people’s environmental perspective; law and its implementation is the object and need of the hour.

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