Delhi- NCR and large parts of North India continue to grapple with deteriorating air quality. The capital has declared a health emergency with the Delhi government announcing a slew of measures including rolling out its odd-even scheme to bring down vehicular pollution. While vehicular pollution is one of the factors that contribute to poor air quality index (AQI), the current situation has been made worse by farm fires across states of UP, Punjab, and Haryana.

The Supreme Court on Monday summoned the chief secretaries of the four states to ensure there is a crackdown on stubble burning. The Supreme Court made it clear in no uncertain terms that states can’t keep on passing the buck to one another and that they have to ensure accountability to keep air pollution under check.

CII has collaborated with farmers in 100 villages across Punjab and Haryana. The CII is adopting a multi-pronged and community-driven approach through field action, behaviour change communication, mass awareness, and research and knowledge dissemination.

To discuss this grave problem and the likely solution, CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan spoke with Seema Arora, Deputy Director-General, Confederation of India Industry (CII), Samit Deb, Chief People Officer, Birla Soft, Polash Mukherjee, Lead Air Quality and Climate Resilience, NRDC’s India Program and – Samir Astha, Director Finance and CFO, CLP India.

On the stubble burning problem, Deb said this is a solvable problem. “We picked up two villages and created a team of people who understood what the problem was. We talked to Punjab Agriculture University, Delhi IIT and figured out a solution and by the end of 2017. We ensured that the two villages were completely stubble burning free.”

Arora said in the pilot that they did last year they learned that the issue had to be looked at from the farmers’ perspective because he has to change his behaviour. Since buying the machine for farmers would be expensive, they have created a shared model through farmer cooperatives.

“We provide machines to the cooperatives and they rent it out at a very nominal price the farmers. The rent is required so that the cooperatives to maintain the machine. Alongside, the farmer is also trained on how to use the machine in a correct manner,” Seema Arora said.Talking about why some of the solutions do not work, Polash Mukherjee said, “There is a big gap between what is on paper and what is happening on the ground. There are solutions but there is too much that needs to be done. One problem is the multiplicity of authorities who don’t see eye to eye.”

Posted on Nov 5th, 2019: