Stubble burning, construction waste still a major concern: Economic Survey

Most farmers settle for the easy and almost zero-cost option — of putting the straw on fire to reduce it to ashes. This takes little time, involves no cost for the farmer but is environmentally hazardous

Agriculture crop residue burning as well as construction and demolition waste continues to be major concerns, the Economic Survey said on Friday adding that Delhi's public-private-partnership model in construction-related waste management should be replicated by other states and cities.

Emphasising on the need to use recycled products in construction, the Survey lauded the Delhi public-private-partnership (PPP) model in construction and demolition (C&D) waste management as it supports the Swachch Bharat Mission and supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.

"Burning of agricultural residues, leading to rise in pollutant levels and deterioration of air quality, is still a major concern though the total number of burning events recorded reduced due to various efforts taken," the Survey said.

However, continuation of this practice by farmers is reported every year starting winter and serious concerns about its impact on air quality are raised, it said.

About 178 million tonnes of surplus crop residues are available in the country. Burning of these residues leads to rise in pollutant levels and deterioration of air quality.

Varieties of surplus crop residues are burnt especially in northern States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan depending on the agro-climatic region.

However, about 50 per cent of all crop residue burnt in the country are residues of rice crop. Emission pollutants released due to burning depends on the type of crop residue.

Unscientific disposal of C&D waste is one of the key contributors to the air and water pollution, the Survey said and added the annual consumption of construction materials (sand, soil and stone) in India is estimated to be 3,100 million tonnes.

As per a study conducted by IIT Kanpur in 2015, C&D is a key contributor towards particulate matter emissions in Delhi. Therefore, investing in a circular economy driven approach in C&D waste management should have large payoff in terms of avoiding health and environmental damage, it added.

A C&D recycling facility in Delhi was set up in 2009 by Municipal Corporation of Delhi and IL&FS Environmental Infrastructure and Services Ltd at Burari to address the waste generated during Commonwealth Games preparations.

Since then, the Burari facility along with two other C&D recycling facilities in Delhi are together recycling over 2,650 tonnes per day C&D waste. All three Delhi plants have together processed over 5 million tonnes C&D waste.

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