Crop residue management: Solution to achieve better air quality
Residents of different cities (probably villages too) of India breathe some of the least healthy air of the globe. During 2017, about 76.8% of the population of India were exposed to annual population-weighted mean PM2·5 greater than the limit recommended by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQ: 40 mg/m3) (Balakrishnan, Dey, Gupta, et al. 2019). Over last five years, the annual population-weighted mean ambient PM2·5 concentrations were significantly higher over the Indo- Gangetic Plain (IGP) region in comparison to other parts of the country. It should also be noted that polluted air is the second highest health risk factor in India (Balakrishnan, Dey, Gupta, et al. 2019).
All over the globe coal-based power plants, industry, gasoline or diesel vehicular emission, and natural dusts are regarded as the major sources of ambient air pollution. There are also certain area-specific and even season-specific pollutant sources that create regional and seasonal air pollution crisis. The seasonal burning of crop residues, particularly in the north-western parts of the IGP, impose gargantuan effect on the air quality of the region as well as on the economy of the country through major disruption in transportation, closure of schools, and increasing ailment among the productive population. Studies suggested that the seasonal burning (particularly during the first 10 days of November) of crop residue in agriculture fields contribute 30% to 35% of PM10 concentration in Delhi (PTI 2019a).