Winters have become synonymous with high pollution levels in the national capital being made worse by crop stubble burning in neighbouring Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Thousands of farmers set their fields on fire. Law enforcement agencies attempt to control this by enforcing penalties. Yet, fields continue to be set on fire. There were 73,883 incidents of stubble burning in Punjab alone between September 21 and November 14, 2020 (Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, 2020). This is the highest number of incidents since 2016.
The government has rolled out a slew of subsidies and incentives. These have also failed to bring about a change. Farmers complain of problems with the efficiency of machines, their availability and high cost. This August, the Punjab government reported to the Supreme Court that it has not been able to provide cash incentives to farmers, owing to Covid-related financial constraints.