The ‘Burning’ Solution Cleaner Air, Better Life

17 Oct 2018

Every year, North India, particularly Delhi finds itself in the national and international spotlight for poor air quality. We have all read at length about reports of the air quality crisis, and many of us may have experienced it ourselves.

While we can discuss at length on how the pollution has gained such peaks and who is to be blamed for the lack of action, little do we focus on the possible solutions and chart the future course of action.

In its endeavour of understanding the root cause of air pollution in Delhi NCR and propose an action plan, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), collaborated with NITI Aayog to launch ‘Cleaner Air, Better Life’ initiative in 2016. The initiative aimed at bringing together relevant stakeholders for designing a set of solutions for the major sources of air pollution in NCR—transportation, industries, and domestic sources. CII is working towards engaging business, civil society and government to take actionable steps to improve the air quality in NCR. The objective is to develop an integrated approach that builds consensus, catalyse voluntary commitments and, influence adherence to existing policies & advocate for new policies.

One of the major contributors of air pollution in Delhi NCR, especially at this time of the year is stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana. Recent NASA reports suggest, that while the crop residue burning has decreased compared to last year, there are numerous red outlines in Punjab showing active burning, adding to the problem of air pollution.

As most of the villages in Punjab burn the residues, there are a bunch of villages which chose to act against it. CII, through CII Foundation (CIIF) has undertaken a pilot initiative to support 3000 farmers in select villages of Patiala and Ludhiana districts to help them adopt alternative tools and technologies to manage the crop residues. CII Foundation, which is managing the initiative on ground, is undertaking a range of interventions, including enhancing farmers’ knowledge and capacity on Sustainable Cropping Systems, helping them adopt new tools and technologies, and ensuring regular monitoring. The farmers are actively participating in trainings and awareness drives in large numbers. In the CII intervened 19 villages in the two districts of Punjab, covering over 16000 acres of farmland, it is being noticed that most of the farmers are adopting alternative methods of managing straw over burning.

CIIF has partnered with Punjab Agricultural University and Punjab Pollution Control Board for technical know-how, and is working very closely with the district agriculture offices and district administration in implementing the project.

With support of local grassroot NGOs, village level Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, a participatory monitoring mechanism has been adopted, where village Nigrani Committees or village level volunteers monitor the cases of stubble burning, and undertake remedial measures, including counselling to the concerned farmers.

The initiative was launched in Ludhiana and Patiala districts on 16th and 17th October 2018 respectively, bringing together farmer groups, key Government officials, industry members and institutional partners.

The project implementation was designed based on the findings of the Task force for Biomass Management, constituted by NITI Aayog with Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change as convenor and eminent experts as members.

While the example of these bunch of villages help find an optimal solution, transformation can happen when numerous stakeholders come together to help farmers adopt alternative tools and technologies for crop residue burning.

CII is keen to partner with various stakeholders and urge corporates to adopt a cluster of villages to scale up the initiative next year. We can solve the “burning” issue only when the corporates, government and farmers join hands and act now.

CIIF team can be contacted for further details and updates from ground at /