Working Groups

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Working Group 1 (WG1): Agro-Economics, Human Geography, Cultural Anthropology, and Agricultural Science 

WG1 will examine the effects of incentives aimed at promoting behavioral changes in farmers and the various alternatives to burning straw. In the first year of the project, we will conduct a survey across the entire state of Punjab. Using the results, we will conduct intensive interviews examining the traditional cultural background of farming, labor availability, and the impact of subsidies on farmer and community decision making. In addition, we will examine the technical and socioeconomic advantages/disadvantages of straw management. Several alternative uses for straw and new practices aimed at sustainable agriculture will also be proposed.

Research Plan

WG1 will examine the effects of incentives aimed at ending stubble burning among farmers, while highlighting various alternative uses for straw. A questionnaire survey will be conducted in conjunction with WG2 and WG3 in FY2020. The survey will examine the following. 

  • Economic status
  • Status of stubble burning (continuing or stopped), and reasons for doing so
  • Cultural/traditional background of farming in the region
  • Labor availability
  • Use or non-use of subsidies provided for purchase of a Happy Seeder or other machinery, and reasons for doing so
  • Treatment experiences in medical institutions
  • Interest in one’s own healthI

From the latter-half of FY2020, the results of the questionnaire will be analyzed to provide an understanding of farmer behaviors. 

In collaboration with LPU, PAU, CIPT and IRRI-India, WG1 will also examine various alternatives to burning straw.

  • Cultivation of other products (e.g., potatoes, mints or cotton)
  • Selling as livestock fodder
  • Composting 
  • Baling 


Working Group 2 (WG2): Atmospheric Science and Remote Sensing 

The aim of WG2 is to utilize field observations and model simulations to quantify the effects of stubble burning in Punjab on air quality in Delhi-NCR. Given that monitoring data in Punjab are limited, we will construct a network of several hundred compact instruments to monitor ambient PM2.5 levels and prepare refined estimates of inventory emissions from stubble burning. This data, combined with satellite measurements from across the Indo-Gangetic Plain, will allow model simulations for extended analysis. In the later years of the project, PM2.5 distributions will be transmitted via smartphones using a specially developed app.

Research Plan

The initial goal of WG2  is to quantify the effect of stubble burning in Punjab on air quality in Delhi. Quantification will be carried out as follows.

  • Monitoring of ambient PM2.5 levels across Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi, with installation of dozens of fixed compact and useful instruments (CUPIs) to develop a data monitoring network
  • Analysis of fire detection counts observed by satellite
  • Estimations of air pollutant emissions using model simulations (WRF Chem and NHM-Chem)

The remote sensing team will provide useful information for use by WG1 as follows.

  • Fire detection counts observed by satellite
  • Smoke dispersion/aerosol distributions observed by satellite
  • Analysis of land-use changes by using satellite data
  • Geographical distributions of double-cropping fields, including information on cultivation periods


Working Group 3 (WG3): Epidemiology and Public Health

WG3 will conduct health education classes entitled “Air and Health” with the aim to increase health awareness among local residents. In addition, WG3 doctors will perform medical examinations of women and children and to test their pulmonary function and monitor any symptoms. The main advantage of our research plan is that we will be able to estimate individual PM2.5 exposure levels by using compact monitoring instruments. The following figure shows an example of a PM2.5 exposure measurement taken in Punjab on Nov. 2, 2018.

PM2.5 diary, Nov. 2, 2018, Punjab

Research Plan

In collaboration with various local institutions, WG3 will conduct health education classes entitled “Air and Health” in rural villages in Moga and Ludhiana districts, Punjab with the aim to increase health awareness.

WG3 doctors, assisted by local collaborators, will perform medical examinations of children and their mothers and use a peak flow meter to test their pulmonary function. A smartphone application available in each local dialect will be used to collect information on the daily symptoms of residents.