Stubble Burning In Punjab: Assessing the Gaps between Policy and Implementation

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The burning of paddy fields after the harvest, or stubble burning just prior to winter, has often been labelled as the main culprit behind the poor air quality in north India. With only 10-15 days left between the rice-harvesting season and the wheat-sowing time, farmers often resort to burning, to quickly eliminate the paddy stubble. Every year, Punjab alone produces 20 million tonnes of paddy residue, out of which 80-90% gets burnt on ground. Despite years of work by the government agencies to curb stubble burning, Punjab witnessed an unfortunate increase of 44.5 per cent incidents in 2020 (Business Standard, 2021). In an effort to understand the complexity of the issue, this study sought to explore the gaps which are hindering the implementation of the existing policies. The study reviewed the policies and programmes introduced in the last decade (2009-2019) by the government to control this menace. After examining the policies, it was found that there are various factors which may have directly or indirectly influenced the problem of stubble burning.