Stubble Burning Creating Chaos

Stubble Burning Creating Chaos

As per a survey by the Delhi government, 2019‘s stubble burning accounted for 44% of the city’s air pollution and that Punjab burnt 9 million tonnes of such stubble in the same year. So what is stubble? How is burning it causing this high level damage to air? Moreover, what measures are being taken to combat it?

Crux of the Matter

What Is Stubble Burning?
It is the practice of purposefully setting fire to the straw stubble or crop residue that remains after grains, like paddy, wheat, etc., have been harvested by farmers.

Why Is It Done?
Burning stubble helps in killing pests like slugs that can cause damage to growing crops and reduces nitrogen tie-up, which causes the growth of yellow wheat. For the farmers, the turnaround time is reduced between harvesting and sowing for the winter crop.

Are There Any Ill-Effects?
Yes. Burning stubble also leads to the emission of greenhouse gases that contributes to global warming, increased levels of particulate matter, leading to air pollution and smog, which in turn cause health hazards. Moreover if done excessively, it also reduces soil fertility and causes fires.

What’s The Link Of Delhi’s Air Quality With This?
Scientists at India Meteorological Department (IMD) report that due to north-westerly winds blowing across Delhi, the smoke from Punjab and Haryana will directly be carried to the city, deteriorating the air quality there.

What Does The Delhi Government Say?
Their data shows that last year’s stubble burning accounted for 44% of the city’s air pollution. Delhi’s environment minister Gopal Rai said that Punjab produced 20 million tonnes of crop stubble out of which 9 million tonnes were burnt last year. In Haryana, 1.23 million tonnes of the 7 million tonnes of stubble were burnt by farmers.

What Does SC Say?
Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has written to the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana, asking to control these cases. EPCA chief Bhure Lal says it is imperative that early action is taken, in order to control possible fires ahead of the wintertime and the annual pollution spike in Delhi.

What Are The States Doing Now?
Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has said that monitoring teams are keeping a close watch on violators of stubble burning. Meanwhile Delhi CM, Arvind Kejriwal met scientists at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) for a live demonstration of a new machine called Pusa decomposer.

How Will Pusa Decomposer Work?
Made up of a set of 4 tablets, composed of extracted fungi strains, the decomposer will help the stubble decompose at a comparatively faster rate. Farmers can then shred the straw and spray a solution that contains the fungal strains mixed with the soil. It has an estimated cost of ₹20 per acre, which can deal with, up to 5 tonnes of raw straw.

Curiopedia
  • Slash-and-burn agriculture is a farming method that involves the cutting and burning of plants in a forest or woodland to create a field called a swidden. In India, the practice is known as jhum or jhoom.
  • “The Great Green Wall of Aravalli” is a 1,600 km long green ecological corridor along Aravalli range from Gujarat to Delhi. The corridor is meant to act as a buffer against pollution, 51% of which is caused by industrial pollution, 27% by vehicles, 8% by crop burning and 5% by diwali fireworks.
  • An air quality index (AQI) is used by government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted the air currently is or how polluted it is forecast to become. Different countries have their own air quality indices, corresponding to different national air quality standards. The National Air Quality Index (AQI) was launched in New Delhi on September 17, 2014, under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Delhi Smog Towers To Fight Air Pollution

Delhi Smog Towers To Fight Air  Pollution

With the Supreme Court of India directing the authorities to finish installing smog towers in Delhi within 10 months, questions have arisen over its functioning as well as effectiveness amidst severe pollution in the country’s capital.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Order
The Supreme Court recently announced a 10-month deadline for the installation of 2 smog towers in Delhi. In its statement, the SC declared that failing the deadline would be considered as “contempt” of Court. Costing around ₹18.52 crore, the aim of such large scale installation of smog towers is to curb pollution in Delhi, which is one of the most polluted cities in the world.

Pollution has been a major problem for Delhi as well as the whole country. While Delhi was declared ‘the most polluted city in the world’ by the WHO in 2014, 21 out of 30 of the most polluted cities of the world are in India (2019).

What Are Smog Towers?
Smog towers are large scale air purifiers, with the towers containing multiple filter layers. The tower brings in air through the fans installed at its top, which is then purified by the removal of pollutant particles and is released back.

1 smog tower was inaugurated in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi in January 2020 by BJP MP Gautam Gambhir. With a height of 20 metres, the tower has a capacity of purifying 6 lakh cubic metres of air in a day. It has a reported capacity of trapping 75% particulate matters (PM) 2.5 and 10 and purifies air in a range of 500-750 metres. The tower has Carbon nanofibres as the main component of the filters.

The proposed 2 towers would be constructed by the National Buildings Construction Corporation and would be installed by Tata Consultancy. While IIT Bombay would manage the project, it has the University of Minnesota as its partner, which also facilitated the installation of the “largest air purifying tower” in Xi’an, China.

History Of Smog Towerss In India

  • November 2019: The SC directed both the State and the Central Governments to develop a plan for installing smog towers in Delhi.
  • 3 January, 2020: BJP MP Gautam Gambhir inaugurated a smog tower in the Lajpat Nagar of Delhi.
  • 13 January, 2020: The SC ordered the installation of 2 smog towers in Delhi by April as part of a larger plan.
  • 30 July, 2020: IIT Bombay withdrew from the project. However, the institute came back into the project after the SC labelled its withdrawal a “contempt”.
  • 31 August, 2020: The SC criticized the State and the Central Governments for failing the April deadline. It granted them a 10 month period and claimed that a “contempt” case would be initiated if the deadline fails this time.

Reactions
While several experts have lauded the smog towers, critics have labelled them “band-aid solutions”. They have also credited China’s success in curbing pollution to reduction in coal usage and motor vehicles, increase in usage of renewable energy, and strict measures against polluting factories, etc instead of the smog towers.

It is difficult to “clean air” like this (through smog towers) because the volume of air in the atmosphere is large. In a 1-km square area, there is a huge volume of air and the purifier will be working only on a minuscule part of it.

Dr. S N Tripathi, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, IIT-Kanpur

Air Purifying Towers In China
China has two smog towers – in capital Beijing and in Xi’an. With a height of 100 metres, the Xi’an tower is the largest smog tower in the world. It has reportedly reduced pollution of PM 2.5 by 19% in an area of 6 square km around while producing 10 million cubic metres of purified air daily. The tower draws polluted air into the glasshouses of the tower and heats it by solar energy; this hot air passes through filters and is released back into the surroundings.

The Beijing tower was built by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, who also reportedly enabled the plant to compress the carbon waste accumulated in the purification process and produce gemstones from it.

Curiopedia
  • Studio Roosegaarde is a design studio by Daan Roosegaarde, which develops projects that merge technology and art in urban environments. The work from Studio Roosegaarde has been exhibited at the Rijksmuseum, Tate Modern, Tokyo National Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Design Museum in London.
  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA), is a standard of air filter. Filters meeting the HEPA standard must satisfy certain levels of efficiency.
  • IQAir is a Swiss air quality technology company, specializing in protection against airborne pollutants, developing air quality monitoring and air cleaning products. IQAir also operates AirVisual, a real-time air quality information platform.

Amidst Bittersweet Ties, Delhi & Centre Join Hands to Fight Covid-19

Centre

After Supreme Court called out the Delhi government for poor handling of the Covid-19 in the capital, Home Minister Amit Shah & Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan met CM Arvind Kejriwal to provide additional assistance from the Centre to jointly fight the virus.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Long-going Tussle
The past few years have seen multiple face-offs between the central government and the Delhi state government. AAP has been a strong critic of the center on issues like CAA, NRC, Article 370, Delhi Riots, power-sharing, GST, Balakot Strikes, and Demonetization whereas Centre has called out AAP’s Odd-Even & Mohalla Clinic Schemes failures.

Apart from this, the Delhi government has been in a constant tussle with the LG who the AAP has accused of being a speed breaker in their way and a puppet of the central government. They have time and again demanded full statehood, control of Delhi Police, and control of DDA. AAP has constantly accused the central government of neglecting issues of Delhi and not providing enough support and sufficient money.

On multiple occasions the AAP was forced to bend down before the LG and not to forget the first time when AAP came in power; they held a protest outside the LG house and also resigned. Very recently after Arvind Kejriwal announced to reserve the Delhi government hospitals only for residents of Delhi; the decision was overturned by the LG. Even on the issue of Migrant laborers both the governments were seen to blame each other.

COVID-19 Bridging Gaps & reducing Indifferences
As the surge in cases continues and the situation becomes more critical with 231 containment zones in the state; the central government has now stepped in to provide additional assistance to the AAP government.

Right from the first day of lockdown, understanding the need of the hour, the Delhi government has toned down and has taken a defensive approach and is seen to be working in a coordinated manner with the center without indulging in any petty politics.

Going by the current doubling rate in Delhi, 5.5 lakh cases, and over 80,000 hospital beds are expected by the end of July, for which Delhi is not adequately prepared and thus both the state and national machinery will jointly work to combat the spread of the virus.

Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister, New Delhi

Home Minister Amit Shah has announced that Delhi will be given 500 railway coaches to address the shortage of beds for coronavirus patients. The railway coaches equipped with all facilities to fight COVID will increase 8000 beds for Delhi.

Delhi which was criticized for reducing tests will also receive help to increase the number of tests to 18,000 per day. COVID-19 tests in Delhi will be doubled in the next two days and tripled after six days. Testing will be started at every polling station in each containment zone.

The Centre will also supply the necessary resources including random test kits, oxygen cylinders, ventilators, and pulse oximeters. Contact mapping will be improved by a comprehensive health survey for every person to reduce containment zones.

The national capital now stands at the third position after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with nearly 41,000 cases so far and recorded more than 2,000 cases for a second consecutive day on June 13.

Curiopedia
  • There are a number of myths and legends associated with the origin of the name Delhi. One of them is that the name of the city at the time of King Prithviraj was Dilpat, and that Dilpat and Dilli are probably derived from the old Hindi word Dil meaning eminence.
  • Federalism in India refers to relations between the Centre and states of the Union of India. The Constitution of India establishes the structure of the Indian government. Part XI of the Indian constitution specifies the distribution of legislative, administrative and executive powers between the union government and the States of India.
  • In India, “The Emergency” refers to a 21 month period from 1975 to 1977 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had a state of emergency declared across the country. Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 of the Constitution because of the prevailing “internal disturbance”, the Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977. The Emergency is one of the most controversial periods of independent India’s history. The words “secular” and “socialist” were added to the preamble in 1976 during the Emergency.

Hit With 16 Earthquakes, Delhi On Shaky Grounds

Earthquakes in Delhi

Delhi’s woes regarding earthquakes continue as another earthquake, albeit mild one, hit the city. Already with an over-strained medical system, the incoming of, as experts say, a mightier earthquakes might add to their Covid-19 troubles.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Earthquakes
On Monday, 8th June, an earthquake occurred near Delhi. The epicenter of the earthquake was 13 km from Gurugram and was the 6th earthquake with the same epicenter in the last 10 days. The recent earthquake was the 16th in the Delhi neighborhood in the last 2 months. Fortunately, the tremor occurred 18 km inside the earth, which, combined with the light magnitude, was not felt by citizens and did no damage.

How It Measures?
The intensity of earthquakes is commonly measured by the Richter Scale. It is a logarithmic scale, where an increase of 1 point indicates an increase of magnitude by 10.

What is Richter Scale

However, large scale earthquakes are measured in Moment magnitude (MW).

Major Upcoming
Researchers have claimed that an earthquake of magnitude 8.5+ is imminent in the Delhi region. The experts have pointed to the recurrent earthquakes as a buildup to one major earthquake coming.

Delhi region lies in Fault IV seismic zone in India, which is the 2nd most vulnerable region to earthquakes. Its history goes to the time when the Himalayan mountain range formed by the collision of the Indian tectonic plate with the Eurasian plate. The Himalayan crust is still contorted and makes minor movements to release strain, causing seismic activity in the Delhi region.

A major earthquake from the Central Himalayan foothills is expected … the science tells us that the stresses due to the northward movement of the Indian plate piled up enormously there and it has to be released through a major earthquake or a series of earthquakes.

CP Rajendran, Earth scientist, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research

Major Earthquakes In Recent Times

  • 2001: 7.7 MW in Gujarat; 20,000+ casualties
  • 2005: 7.6 MW in Kashmir; 87,000+ casualties
  • 2009: 7.5 MW in Andaman & Nicobar Islands; 0 casualties
  • 2015: 7.8 MW in Nepal; ~9,000 casualties
  • 2015: 7.7 MW in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan; 400 casualties
Curiopedia
  • Charles Francis Richter was an American seismologist and physicist. Richter is most famous as the creator of the Richter magnitude scale, which, until the development of the moment magnitude scale in 1979, quantified the size of earthquakes. The quote “logarithmic plots are a device of the devil” is attributed to Richter.
  • The 2001 Gujarat earthquake reached 7.7 on the moment magnitude scale. The earthquake killed around 20,000 people, injured another 167,000, and destroyed nearly 340,000 buildings. Smritivan, a memorial park, and museum dedicated to victims of the earthquake are built on top of Bhujia Hill. 13,823 trees, each dedicated to a victim, were planted in the garden.
  • A World Bank and United Nations report shows estimates that around 200 million city dwellers in India will be exposed to storms and earthquakes by 2050. Geographical statistics of India show that almost 54% of the land is vulnerable to earthquakes.

Vulnerability of Migrant Workers in the Face of Pandemic

Government of India has notified states to seal the interstate borders in the backdrop of exodus of thousands of migrant workers from National Capital Region (NCR) Delhi. The government has urged migrant workers to stay where they are and assured that food, shelter, and wages will be provided to them.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Exodus of Migrant Workers
Thousands of migrant workers of Uttar Pradesh (UP) working in Delhi, Punjab, and Haryana, had begun migrating back to their hometowns amid the Coronavirus lockdown. Workers who survive on daily wages and who have been housed in factories or construction sites were apprehensive about going hungry, penniless and having no shelter.

UP government in a statement said that the Delhi government disconnected the electricity and water connection of these people. It added that they were not even provided with food and milk. There were rumors that buses are waiting at the UP border to drop these migrants to their hometowns and DTC buses dropped people at the Delhi border, said the statement.

Thousands of workers gathered at Delhi’s Anand Vihar bus station were taken to UP border. Many migrants were seen walking from Delhi to UP border as well. UP government announced that it will run nearly 1,000 buses to bring back the migrant workers to their domicile state.

While this exodus massively dilutes the whole purpose of lockdown – to stem the spread of COVID-19 – the Indian government has ordered to seal all inter-state borders and put those who have already migrated in a 14-day quarantine. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also suspended some Delhi government officials over lapses in ensuring a lockdown. It also issued a 5-point guideline to cope with the issue:

  • Creation of temporary shelters for stranded migrants
  • Provision of food for them and the poor
  • 14-day quarantine for those who have migrated
  • Regular wages for daily wagers and migrant workers
  • Exemption for migrant workers to pay rent for a month

Kejriwal’s Belated Appeal
After the images of lakhs of migrant workers stranded at Delhi’s Anand Vihar bus terminal went viral, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal made a public appeal to all migrant communities to stay back and adhere to the lockdown protocols. He further mentioned that stranded population will be housed temporarily in Delhi’s schools.

India’s Situation
Delhi houses about India’s 1.3 million migrant workers as per the 2011 Census. India’s urban region has around 13.4 million interstate workers. A large exodus would put many lives at stake. Moreover, the Capital also saw the largest one day spike in the number of cases on Sunday, taking the toll to 72.

Migrants from various states began their journey back home after PM Modi announced the lockdown. Telangana, in order to battle the migration, announced that all the migrant workers will get Rs. 500 cash and 12 kg of rice. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) also announced that ‘Annapurna’ centres where a full meal is available at just Rs. 5 will remain open.

As of 30th March 2020, India has more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients and more than 25 deaths.

Curiopedia

Unorganised Sector of India – Over 94 percent of India’s working population is part of the unorganised sector. Unorganised sector, also known as own account enterprises, refers to all unlicensed, self-employed or unregistered economic activity such as owner manned general stores, handicrafts and handloom workers, rural traders, farmers, etc. The unorganised sector has low productivity and offers lower wages. Even though it accounted for over 94 percent of workers, India’s unorganised sector created just 57 percent of India’s national domestic product in 2006, or about 9 fold less per worker than the organised sector. The productivity gap sharply worsens when rural unorganised sector is compared to urban unorganised sector, with gross value added productivity gap spiking an additional 2 to 4 fold depending on occupation. Some of lowest income jobs are in the rural unorganised sectors. Poverty rates are reported to be significantly higher in families where all working age members have only worked the unorganised sector throughout their lives. More Info