A farmer in Punjab burnsstubble in his paddy field before growing the next crop.

Delhi Smog: Too Late This Season, Be Prepared Next Year, Says Punjab Farm Panel Chief

A solution to Delhi’s lung-choking pollution triggered by stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana won’t work this winter. The authorities should look for a feasible alternative and ensure that they are better prepared next year.

That’s what Ajay Vir Jakhar, chairman of the Punjab State Farmer Commission, told BloombergQunit in an interview. The state does not have the funds to provide farmers an alternative to crop burning. And changing habits won’t be that easy, he said.

“For decades, the agricultural university system has been telling farmers to clean the land before sowing the next crop,” Jakhar said. “Now the theory is being turned on its head.”

He made a case for an incentive of Rs 100 a quintal for farmers who don’t burn their crops to prepare the land for sowing. The state sought central assistance to subsidise expensive machinery that would allow sowing without stubble burning. “But even if state and central governments agree on a comprehensive plan, it’s too late to make a change this year.”

The whole system needs to be in place by the budget and the money should be provided six months before the sowing season, he said.

Watch the full interview with Ajay Vir Jakhar here.