AI-Based Platform to Help Tackle Stubble Burning Problem in India

A Gurugram-based start-up is developing a platform that will help tackle the problem of stubble burning.

Tech News
3 min read
A farmer burns the stubble left behind after harvesting crops.

It’s that time of the year again when farmers across Punjab and Haryana burn hectares of open fields to dispose off crop waste to prepare for the sowing of wheat for the next season.

This results in elevated pollution levels in bordering states, especially Delhi, which sees an increase in its AQI levels due to the rise of harmful particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other greenhouse gases which affect more than 300 million Indians.

To battle the same, an Indian start-up is working on an AI-based platform called Zuri that it claims will be able to monitor and predict the adverse effects of stubble burning.

This will help the government assess districts that create the most pollution so that farmers there can be offered subsidies or provided aid to help them sell the crop waste to various industries instead of burning them.


What is Zuri?

Zuri is an AI-based platform developed by Blue Sky Analytics which is a start-up based out of Gurugram. It collects satellite data and feeds it into a dashboard that constantly monitors air quality and emissions.

The company has also created an app called BreeZo that checks ambient air quality and is currently being used by 4,500 users. It is available on the Google Play Store.

One of the creators of the platform, Abhilasha Purwar, says that the platform is still in its developmental stage and will be available in its full version by 2020.

Zuri is dedicated to tracking farm and forest fires while another app Zorro tracks industrial emissions.

How Does It Work?

Most of the data Zuri is collecting is in the form of satellite images captured by NASA which is being used to analyse air quality and emissions.

When it comes to stubble burning, Zuri also provides data on burning predictions, fire counts, intensity, expected crop waste and calorific value, high-risk zones, emissions and other data that can be used to monitor and impose regulations on stubble burning in certain areas.

Currently, Blue Sky is constructing an automated data pipeline which is collecting data being fed by NASA, the European Space Agency and public APIs. The company is receiving almost 3-5 TB of data from the satellites on a monthly basis and by using AI this data is being organised and analysed to help Zuri predict better results.

It uses most of the information that’s needed and funnels it into the apps and the dashboard. So, if you zoom in to a particular district, you’ll get detailed information farm-, district-, and village-wise along with the intensity with which the fires are burning.


What’s Next For Zuri?

The creators of the platform will focus on collecting data this year and then use the same to predict results even before the burning season starts.

This will allow policymakers to plan in advance and they can also direct focus on districts known to cause the most pollution.

Since it has been observed that during October and November airflow from certain districts brings in maximum emissions to Delhi, these specific districts can be offered subsidies and farmer benefits.

The platform’s co-creator Abhilasha Purwar says that it also hopes to serve as a marketplace for farmers to sell their waste crops which can be procured by government holdings or private players that can use the stubble for manufacturing or packaging purposes.

— With inputs from Livemint

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