Case Study 7

You are posted as the Environmental Ministry secretary to the government of India. Recently, the Chief Minister and various ministers of the Delhi government have been very vocal regarding the increasing air pollution in the capital during the winter season. Delhi as a city and India currently is ranked poorly among different environmental health indicators published internationally. 

The major reason identified behind this enhanced level of pollution is the burning of stubble by the farmers in neighbouring states of Delhi. 

Stubble is the straw that stands behind after paddy, wheat and other crops have been harvested using a machine. Stubble burning is an age-old practice to prepare the fields for the next sowing season. Many believe that stubble burning enhances the productivity of their land and is also a cheap and fast way to dispose of the waste after harvesting is done.

Environment Ministry has received complaints from the Delhi government regarding rising air pollution. You have been asked to prepare a report and give recommendations to control the pollution level. You are in a state of dilemma as any one-sided decision can have serious repercussions. Analyze the situation from different perspectives and give your recommendations. 

Environmental pollution is a major problem, especially in developing nations. It causes socio-economic distress, affects agriculture adversely, causes diseases to children and the elderly and decreases the overall quality of life. It also brings a bad name to the nation which will affect tourism.

Poor farmers who do not have enough resources for proper waste disposal will find it economically burdensome if asked to do so. Also, the age-old tradition of burning and believing that it adds to the productivity of the soil will require persuasion and attitudinal changes.

International pollution indices are representative of the character of the nation. It also affects investment and tourism.

There are also chances of inter-state disputes arising dues to different environmental concerns and as one state is being affected by the pollution caused by the other states.      

The issue of cooperative federalism may also arise. Hence amicable and mutually acceptable solutions have to be developed.

Following are some of the recommendations to resolve the issue –

  1. Some environment-friendly methods can be devised to convert waste into resources. A)Renewable energy like Bioethanol can be produced.  A decentralised small plant can be set up by government subsidy at the community level. B) The cardboard and paper industry can be set up in those states with waste collection chains. C) Electricity can be generated from the waste. 
  2. MGNEREGA can be used to collect waste from the field and supply it to industries.
  3. Delhi and other neighbouring states can purchase power from the agricultural states to encourage the production of power from agricultural wastes.
  4. Delhi can also provide expertise to develop those environmentally friendly states as it is industrially developed.
  5. Centre and state governments can do advertisements and mass education for attitudinal changes.
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