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Having banned stubble burning earlier this year, the West Bengal government is now relying on an intense awareness campaign and use of advanced agri-equipment to ensure farmers do not indulge in the polluting practice, but officials claim that the problem has not yet reached major proportions in the eastern state.
Officials say the source of the problem of stubble burning lies in the farmers resorting to the “quick” technology of mechanical harvesters which leave behind a substantial part of the root of the crop as a residue.
“Stubble is always there in paddy cultivation. The problem is that the stubbles have become longer due to the use of machinery,” Pradip Majumdar, advisor, agriculture and allied sector in the Chief Minister’s office, told IANS.
Echoing Majumdar, state Pollution Control Board (PCB) chief Kalyan Rudra said the practice of stubble burning was not there historically.
“Due to recent technological advances, the window between the Kharif and Rabi crop has narrowed down. So to prepare the land, the farmers resort to a quick technology by making use of a mechanical harvester. In this process, a substantial part of the root of the crop remains as a residue,” Rudra told IANS.
Majumdar said that unlike in the northern states, at this point of time the problem is non-existent in West Bengal, with the Kharif crop yet to be harvested. “The fields are all green everywhere now,” he said.
The problem could recur in Bengal after November when the farmers prepare the land for the Rabi crop, Rudra said.
Emphasising that stubble burning was still notA a major problem in Bengal, Rudra conceded that the practice was reported last season from some districts like East Burdwan, West Burdwan, Hooghly, Murshidabad and Nadia.
“We have announced the ban keeping in mind the experience of Delhi,” he said.
Rudra said the state PCB had no data on the extent to which stubble burning has impacted pollution levels in the state as “the source apportionment study carried out in Kolkata did not record this particular problem caused by the practice”.
On February 8, the state environment department came out with a notification prohibiting “the indiscriminate burning of left-over paddy and straw/stubble in the whole state of West Bengal with immediate effect,” saying the “indiscriminate burning… in the open fields after the harvesting of crops is causing widespread air pollution in the whole state.”
Rudra said the authorities have suggested to farmers to use balers in case they opt for the mechanical harvester.
“We have suggested that if you want to use the mechanical harvester use a baler which uproots the stubble completely. We have made it clear that farmers cannot resort to stubble burning and can use the mechanical harvester only alongside the baler,” he said.
Baler, most often called a hay baler, is a piece of farm machinery used to compress a cut and raked crop (such as hay, cotton, flax straw, salt marsh hay, or silage) into compact bales that are easy to handle, transport, and store.
The authorities are also doing satellite monitoring to trace the areas of stubble burning.
“Whenever we come across even one case, we are immediately asking the district magistrate concerned to take the necessary steps,” said Rudra.
Majumdar said intense campaigning was on to convince the farmers about the adverse impact of stubble burning.
“We have told them that the high temperatures generated due to stubble burning would destroy micro-organisms beneficial to the soil. It destroys the soil texture and the live population,” he said.
The state also faces a practical problem. The MGNREGA scheme and other such government programmes have led to a scarcity of labour force for agriculture. “As a result, labour has also become pricy”.
“Now if there is a residual stubble on the land, there can be ratoons. Not seeing any direct benefits, the farmers think the land can be freed without incurring any monetary cost by burning the stubble. So in our campaigns we are highlighting the harmful effects on the land, and, towards the end, mentioning the damage caused to the environment,” Majumdar said.
He said suggested alternatives to stubble burning include using new machines which cut the crop as close to the roots as is done manually.
“Research is also on to find some chemical process to derive the benefits. In Malda, we have experimented with a machine to remove the stubble and reuse it for energy. Similar efforts will be made in the south Bengal districts also.
“But these are now in way forward stages. We will consider all options and take the cost efficient process for the farmers for their adopting,” he added. (IANS)
By- Digital Hub
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The prestigious British-based, Booker Prize, is one of the most prestigious and acclaimed awards given annually to the best work of fiction. This award is given to a work of fiction which is primarily written in English language and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland by the writers of any nationality.
This year, six authors were nominated for their work of fiction, and the winner will be announced on the 3rd of November.
The books which were shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize 2021 are:
1. The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed
British-Somali writer, Nadifa Mohamed's novel, 'The Fortune Men', is a chilling reimagining of Mahmood Mattan's story. Mattan, who is the main character in the book, was a Somali seaman who was wrongfully imprisoned and executed for a murder in Wales.
2. Bewilderment by Richard Powers
Pulitzer-winner, Richard Powers' book is a story of a young astrobiologist, who is in search of finding life on other planets, and his troubled son, Robin. The book is a mixture of sci-fi and family romance. Interestingly, this is Powers' first book after winning the Pulitzer Prize in the year 2019.
3. Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
This book is about the lives of pilot Marian Graves and Hadley Baxter, who was a troubled Hollywood actress. In the 1950s, Marian embarked on a journey to travel the world but then disappeared without a trace. Fifty years later, Hadley is drawn to play Marian's character, which indirectly leads her to probe the mysteries of the latter's life.
4. No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockdwood
This is the first book by the American poet and memoirist. " 'No One Is Talking About This' is like a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature," reads the book's blurb. This book was also one of the finalists for this year's Women's Prize for Fiction.
5. A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam
The Sri Lankan author's book tells the story of a young man who travels to Sri Lanka's war-torn North. The story deals with the themes of loss, longing, the legacy of war, and how it affects everyone. The author had earlier won the DSC Prize for his debut book "The Story of a Brief Marriage".
6. The Promise by Damon Galgut
Damon Galgut is a South African author. In this book, the author pens down the story about a white South African family living around in Pretoria, and the crisis they face during the last few years because of apartheid.
Today, 17 September,marks the 133rd birth anniversary of Michiyo Tsujimura, who was a Japanese scientist, and worked extensively on decoding the nutritional value of green tea.
Tsujimura spent her early career as a science teacher. And, in 1920, she chased her dream of becoming a scientific researcher at the Hokkaido Imperial University, where she began to analyse the nutritional properties of Japanese silkworms, in which she was very much interested.
After a few years, Tsujimura transferred to the Tokyo Imperial University, and began researching the biochemistry of green tea alongside Dr. Umetaro Suzuki, who is well known for his discovery of vitamin B1.
In their joint research in this area, it was revealed that green tea contained significant amount of vitamin C, which is the first of many, yet unknown molecular compounds in green tea.
Later on, in 1929, Tsujimura isolated catechin, which is bitter ingredient of tea. Then, the next year, she isolated tannin, which is an even more bitter compound. All these findings formed the foundation for her doctoral thesis– "On the Chemical Components of Green Tea", and through all this hard work, she graduated as Japan's first woman doctor of agriculture in the year 1932.
Moreover, Tsujimura also made history as an educator when she became the first ever Dean of the Faculty of Home Economics at the Tokyo Women's Higher Normal School in the year 1950.
Even today, a stone memorial in honor of Dr. Michiyo Tsujimura’s achievements can be found in her birthplace of Okegawa City.