Legislation in India traced as core cause of smog in Pakistan

04:44 PM | 5 Nov, 2018
Legislation in India traced as core cause of smog in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD - The smog currently enveloping Pakistan's major cities including Lahore and its neighbourhood is apparently due to a legislation in its Eastern neighbour India, in its agriculture sector.

Though the experts in Pakistan had warned that the reason of smog in the country is due to India, substantial evidence has now popped up in the form of India's 'Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act in 2009'.

According to the legislation, the farmers are bound to delay the clearing of the fields to the end of October- a season in which the wind pattern drastically changes as it starts blowing into Delhi from the north and affects Pakistan as well. Though Delhi and Lahore don't share a border and are located at a considerable distance, the wind patterns apparently support the spread of smoke in areas far off Indian capital as well.

A report by new York Times estimated the amount of burnt straw to be as much as 32 million tonnes and an image released by NASA in 2016 confirms the source of the crop burning areas to be from India.

Until a few years ago, Punjab-based farmers burnt the remnants of the rice crops for sowing wheat but the smoke from such fires did not bellow out of the province.

At that time, farmers set fire to the straw in late September and early October, however, the recent legislation has compelled the farmers to delay the burning until late October in which the wind patterns support infiltration of smoke into Pakistan from its eastern neighbour.

According to the fresh piece of legislation, farmers could no longer sow rice in April but were bound to wait until the middle of June for the cultivation and Haryana too rallied behind Punjab in such agriculture 'reform'.

In order to understand the connection one needs to understand the cultivation cycle of rice which has a 120-day period between germination and harvest; the restriction on sowing means that the fields would be cleared only in October when the wind patterns would have been altered drastically- in a visible vindication of effects on Pakistan.

India's capital, Delhi faced such smog issues squarely after the law was enacted for the first time as before the legislation, Delhi was confronting vehicular and industrial pollution only.

In current era, the entire metropolis is facing smoke due to the delay which was forced upon the farmers.

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The government had also outlined why it was delaying the process, saying the intention was to preserve groundwater because as per their claims rice fields were depleting water for consuming too much water and losing a considerable quantity to evaporation as well.

However, the argument seems shallow and is disputed by International Water Management Institute (IWMI), which underscored that water in rice fields actually contributes to recharging the groundwater and a trivial amount of it is lost to evaporation.

The data from Uttar Pradesh in IWMI’s analysis further deals a blow to the claims made by the government as it shows that rice fields in the state contributed to increasing the level of the water table.

The American Link

The delay is apparently not the choice of the government according to a report by sundayguardianlive, as United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is primarily behind compelling the regime to move away from growing rice under the banner of “crop diversification”.

USAID has used the excuse of preventing the decline of groundwater to peddle this agenda but behind USAID, another American multinational corporation is tipped to be the real player, 'Monsanto'.

Monsanto is now apparently being perceived as the beneficiary of USAID’s purported solution for Punjab’s problems as according to their solution, farmers need to stop growing rice and replace it with Monsanto’s genetically modified (GMO) maize- in visible conflict of interest and pushing business motives further.

India’s indigenous crop cultivation is problematic for Monsanto and other supporters of GMO food, who assert that the world would face a shortage of food grains if genetically engineered plants are not grown.

The collusion of India's Punjab government with Monsanto is visible as in 2012, the then Punjab Chief Minister asked the firm to establish a research centre for creating maize seeds and also announced plans to reduce the area under the cultivation of rice by around 45% in order to grow maize.

The American firm typically lobbies politicians and also members of the academia and convince them into peddling their agenda.

Monsanto now offers its GMO crops as the replacement of rice and as a solution to increase the level of subsoil water, but the experts are tracing visible conflict of interest in the matter.

Monsanto’s GMO products are known to cause multiple problems as its maize is known for killing bees, leading to a shortage of seeds of plants such as onions which rely on bees for pollination.

Conclusively, the agriculture-related legislation has not only tarnished the environment of Delhi and Indian cities but due to wind speed, the effect is being noticed in Pakistan as well though some experts say that the wind direction does not support the idea of 'Indian hand' behind smog in Pakistan.