AAP Govts In Delhi, Punjab Take Responsibility For Stubble Burning, Offer Innovative Solutions

Punjab farm fires are driving Delhi's air pollution to new peaks every day. The shares of farm fires in Delhi's pollution has reached 38%.

Air pollution in Delhi

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann on Friday admitted responsibility for paddy straw (Parali) burning in the border state and promised to curb the practice by next winter amid alarming levels of air pollution in the national capital.

Kejriwal also said the Union government needs to take "specific efforts" to save North India from pollution and that there is no time for blame game. He also urged the Centre to take steps to prevent Parali burning, adding it was wrong to hold farmers alone responsible.

Farm fires in Punjab, where farmers burn paddy stubble in their farms, have continued unabated this year and are a major factor in Delhi's high pollution levels. The share of farm fires in Delhi's PM2.5 pollution has reached to 38 per cent. It's further worsened by adverse weather conditions.

'No time for blame game and politics'

Kejriwal on Friday further said that a joint meeting of chief ministers of various states is imperative as pollution affects the whole region. "The pollution level is high in many cities in Bihar for which Parali burning cannot be responsible," he said. "Several things, including joint meetings of chief ministers and employing experts for their opinion are needed to address the issue."

He said, "Centre needs to take specific steps to save North India from pollution. No time for blame game and politics. Punjab government [is] responsible for stubble burning. It will be significantly reduced in the state by next year...Joint meeting of CMs and expert opinion needed for solving stubble burning problem."

On the situation in Punjab, AAP leader and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann said, "There are 1.20 lakh machines to bury stubble in fields in Punjab. Village panchayats have passed resolutions not to burn stubble. More quantity of stubble [is there] due to bumper paddy crop in Punjab. [We] Promise to find solution by November next year."

'Farmers will stop burning parali when we have solutions'

"We (AAP) have our government in Punjab and we are responsible if Parali is being burnt there. We accept the responsibility for Parali burning in Punjab.

"We admit Parali is being put on fire in Punjab but farmers are not responsible for it. The farmers need a solution, they will stop burning Parali the day they have a solution," Kejriwal said in a joint press conference with Mann.

Mann said the AAP government in Punjab had just a few months to address the problem. He promised the issue would be brought under control by next November. Mann said the farmers in Punjab did not want to burn Parali as it also affected them and their children.

There are 10-12 days between harvesting the paddy crop and sowing the wheat crop and the farmers just have matchsticks, said the Punjab chief minister.

He added that the Punjab government had deployed 1.20 lakh machines to bury stubble in the fields and an app was developed for farmers to fetch these. "Still, if Parali is burning in Punjab, we accept responsibility for it. We are not running from the responsibility. It should be kept in mind that if there is record paddy crop then the Parali burning records will also break," he said, referring to bumper paddy crops in the northern states.

Generating electricity from Parali: Mann pitches an innovative solution

Despite having a short time available to act, the Punjab government set up India's first bioenergy plant with a capacity to use Parali from 47,000 acres, he said.    

Paddy is sown on 75 lakh acres in Punjab. Scores of such plants will be needed to convert Parali into electricity and compressed natural gas, he added.

"The fields in Punjab are very fertile and we will promote crop diversification. We are working to curb Parali burning. Currently, Parali is burnt on 40 lakh acres under paddy crop and we will try to dissuade farmers from it and encourage them to sow other crops," Mann said.

Penalising farmers is not the solution

Mann added that the Punjab government had sent two proposals to the Centre. One was for Punjab and Delhi to contribute Rs 500 each and Centre to provide Rs 1,500 to compensate every farmer for not burning Parali. The Centre, however, rejected it, Mann said. 

The other proposal was to set up Parali processing plants to produce electricity and biogas but the Centre is yet to grant permission, he added. 

He also added that lodging cases against farmers for burning Parali was not a solution.

Kejriwal in action in the capital

Kejriwal also listed steps being taken in Delhi in light of high pollution levels. 

  • Primary classes to be closed from Saturday in Delhi
  • Odd-even scheme being considered
  • Closure of outdoor sports activities for students above class 5

Delhi remains enveloped in a thick layer of smog on Friday as residents, particularly children and the elderly, face health issues. 

The concentration of lung-damaging fine particles known as PM2.5 on Thursday was above 470 micrograms per cubic metre, around eight times the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre, in many areas.

The thick layer of pungent smog lingering over the capital lowered visibility to 400 metres and 500 metres at the Safdarjung and Palam airports, respectively, and blotted out the sun partially.


The overall air quality index (AQI) of Delhi stood at 445 at 2 pm. An AQI of above 400 is considered 'severe' which can affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing illnesses.

(With inputs from PTI)