Environmental issues like stubble burning are costing us dearly

Environmental law is a branch of law that is not talked about much, but it is one of the emerging branches in the world today. This branch deals with a collective term encompassing the aspects of the law which ensure the protection of the environment.

Lawyers strongly influenced by environmental legal principles focus on the management of specific natural resources, such as forests, fisheries, etc.

Representative image. Photo credit: Inc. Magazine.

Levels of environmental law

Most environmental laws fall into a general category of laws called “command and control”. One of India’s most important and understandable environmental laws concerns the burning of stubble.

According to this: “Failure to comply with or breach of the rules and orders of the Commission regarding this matter will be an offense punishable by imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of up to 1 crore, or of them. “

The three different levels of environmental law are:

  1. Identification of a type of activity harmful to the environment.
  2. Imposition of conditions or standards specific to this activity.
  3. Prohibition of forms of activity.

What about the stubble burning season?

Considering India’s thatch-burning laws and after watching TV, I deduced that India needs more than laws to eradicate farm fires. With just a few weeks between the rice harvest season and the start of wheat planting, farmers burn debris to quickly clear their fields for the new harvest.

For them, every day counts.

One of the main challenges with stubble burning is air pollution, which has gone from low to severe in recent years. Stubble burning of crops is carried out in violation of prohibitions imposed by state governments.

The concern relates to the fumes and ashes released by these fires, a phenomenon which is gradually suffocating the national capital even if the load of vehicles has eased somewhat because of the Covid-19.

Indeed, this is a situation that requires strict action for the benefit of society because it hurts us in multiple ways. It practically buries Delhi under a cloud of mist every year and destroys beneficial bacteria in the soil. Huge amounts of paddy straw converted into manure and many other recycled resources are simply wasted.

Burning crop residues is a crime

Burning of crop residues is a crime under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and the Air and Pollution Control Act (1981). In 2015, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned the burning of crop residues in states such as Punjab and Haryana, where the practice is widespread.

After all this, the court realized that regulatory action will not be enough to solve the problem as the majority of farmers are small farmers, who find it difficult to afford the necessary equipment to clear their fields.

Therefore, the court ordered that a sum of 100 per 100 kg be provided, along with agricultural machinery free of charge, to prevent them from burning the stubble of crops.

Representative image. Photo credit: NDTV.

However, such a step would amount to forcing states to pay 2,000 yen per acre, to support such operations, in addition to the additional cost of supplying the machinery.

Therefore, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed hope that new technology will be developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and other science laboratories.

For example, a chemical that, when sprayed, will turn crop scraps into manure; or converting rice straw into bricks for use as biogas, which can replace polluting substances like diesel etc.

Can we offer green solutions?

To elaborate on such a solution, I would say that green fuels have been all the rage since the European Union and Japan started moving towards zero emissions. What no one sees is that India is sitting on a potential gold mine. Thousands of tonnes of paddy straw can be converted into compressed natural gas.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) already has the storage infrastructure for different crops and is expected to be able to meet this demand as well. The government is stepping up its ethanol blending program, which can go a long way in reducing India’s inflated crude oil import bill.

As for India, it is constantly striving to improve its environmental problems since it signed the Paris agreement on climate change.

Who are the climate refugees?

When it comes to climate change refugees, there are people specially trained to help environmental migrants i.e. people who are forced to leave their areas of origin due to sudden changes such as increased drought, sea level rise, disruption of seasonal weather conditions, etc.

Currently, the major problem these people face is climate-induced migration in Pacific island cities. According to reports, it is said that many inhabitants of small islands need help adapting to climate change; and help to migrate.

The Paris Agreement represents an important opportunity to access such assistance.

The Paris Agreement provides opportunities for countries close to the Pacific to put adaptation on an equal footing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby increasing the likelihood that Pacific islands can access resources.

The Paris Agreement also addresses various other issues and speaks of a working group tasked with developing recommendations to avoid, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse effects of climate change. He also talks about the loss and damage associated with climate change.

Regional integration, with closer collaboration on climate change, could strengthen the island’s capacity to adapt and facilitate migration in the future.

Another such example is the climate problem in Syria. Researchers agree that climate change cannot be ignored as a reason the once flourishing country has become a parched and war-torn place.

Featured image is for representation purposes only.


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