• SPRF Team

Stubble Burning: The Need for a Behavioural Lens

Authored by Akshita Sharma

Edited by Kavita Majumdar


Read the report here.

The open incineration of paddy crop residue, or stubble burning, in the north Indian states of Punjab and Haryana has become a recurring issue every winter. As pollution caused by stubble burning contributes to the Delhi Smog, the two events are almost always hyphenated in the public discourse, highlighting the former as primarily a public health issue rather than a farmers’ issue. The policy solutions have broadly taken the form of a ban on the practice, incentivising farmers to adopt new crop residue management systems, or fining them. This year, the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and farmers’ protests over the recent Farm Laws have amplified the impact of stubble burning and complicated the policy response.


This paper looks at stubble burning in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It analyses the implementation of key policy measures undertaken over the years to address it, from a behavioural perspective of the farmer. It also assesses the scope for greater private sector engagement in abating stubble burning and suggests some policy actions towards the end.


SPRF is registered as a public charitable trust in New Delhi, India.

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© Social and Political Research Foundation 2019