Levels of air pollution escalate sharply in parts of North India in early winters every year primarily due to residual stubble burning in the agricultural heartland of India – Punjab, Haryana, and parts of UP, Rajasthan and Delhi. Although it is a seasonal activity, its impact is severe and it disrupts life, especially in the Delhi National Capital Region.
After a joint study with NITI Aayog in 2017, the CII Foundation launched an initiative in 2018 in select villages in Punjab. The pilot project covered 19 villages in Ludhiana and Patiala targeting 16000 acres of farmland and 3000 farmers. The pilot project showed encouraging results and burning was checked in the project villages in 75% area while 80% of farmers adopted improved straw management practices.
Encouraged by the good response from farmers, the initiative was expanded to 147 villages in 2019, and further to 218 villages in 2020 – involving a total of 27,000 farmers and 1.57 lakh acres of farm area in eight districts in Punjab and Haryana. In 2019, 87% of farmers adopted improved straw management measures, fully or partially, and 76% of straw was saved from burning in the adopted programme villages. In 2020 too, over 80% of farm area became free of stubble burning.
The interventions focussed on creating awareness to change behaviour with the help of Panchayats, grassroots partner organisations and accelerating adoption of in-situ technology, among other measures.
The impact of the initiative is the result of a multi-stakeholder effort. Punjab Agriculture University – Ludhiana, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and District offices of Department of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare of Punjab and Haryana support the initiative on training and technical aspects. Voluntary organisations GBDSGNS Foundation and Doctors for You and Guru Nanak National College, along with village farmer cooperatives and panchayats play a key role in awareness building. The initiative is supported by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), and industry members Birlasoft, PTC Financial Services, CLP India, Royal Enfield, BPCL, GAIL, Cummins, FIL India and ONGC under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The initiative has been awarded the UN Sustainable Development Goals Action Award – 2020 by UNDP and Government of Punjab.
To know more about the initiative, visit http://ciifoundation.in/