Stubble Burning: Farm fires down by 56% in Punjab, but Delhi continues to feel the impact | Mint
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Business News/ News / India/  Stubble Burning: Farm fires down by 56% in Punjab, but Delhi continues to feel the impact

Stubble Burning: Farm fires down by 56% in Punjab, but Delhi continues to feel the impact

Haryana also reduced its stubble burning incidents by 40 percent YoY, but November saw renewed incidents due to lack of rain cover for paddy straw, CAQM data showed

People walk enveloped by fog and smog on Kartavya Path in New Delhi on Nov. 3, 2023 (AP Photo/Piyush Nagpal)Premium
People walk enveloped by fog and smog on Kartavya Path in New Delhi on Nov. 3, 2023 (AP Photo/Piyush Nagpal)

The capital city of Delhi is experiencing its peak pollution levels in November, coinciding with a spike in stubble-burning incidents in Punjab and Haryana, as per an analysis by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PTI reported.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi witnessed a significant surge from 351 at 10 am on Thursday (November 2) to 471 at 9 am on Friday (November 3). This increase is attributed to adverse meteorological conditions and a notable rise in stubble-burning incidents in neighboring states.

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According to a numerical model-based system developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, stubble burning contributed to 25 percent of the PM2.5 pollution in Delhi on November 2, with expectations of this figure rising to 35 percent on November 3, as per PTI.

One step forward, two steps back

The Centre's Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) reported a substantial decrease in stubble-burning incidents in Punjab and Haryana between September 15 to October 29. It saw a reduction of around 56 percent and 40 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year.

However, despite this reduction, these agrarian states have experienced a notable increase in farm fires in the last few days, with 1,852 incidents on October 30; 2,901 on October 31; and 2,386 on November 1.

Also Read: Top 10 most polluted cities in India: Delhi on top, northern cities battling haze fill list

An official from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in Delhi cited an increase in paddy production in Punjab and Haryana this year due to the lack of cloud cover, resulting in an abundance of paddy straw.

The cumulative number of farm fires in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and NCR areas of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh has reduced from 13,964 in 2022 to 6,391 in 2023, according to CAQM. In the same period in 2021, there were 11,461 stubble-burning cases.

States on alert to cut farm fires

Punjab reported 5,254 stubble-burning incidents during this 45-day period this year, a significant reduction from 12,112 in 2022 and 9,001 in 2021, representing a decrease of 56.6 percent and 41.6 percent, respectively.

In Haryana, there were 1,094 incidents during this period this year, significantly lower than the 1,813 in 2022 and 2,413 in 2021, reflecting a 39.7 percent and 54.7 percent reduction, respectively.

Also Read: 'When poisonous air goes into your body...': Doctor warns as Delhi air quality nosedives

The Punjab government aims to reduce farm fires by 50 percent this winter season and eliminate stubble burning in specific districts. They have outlined an action plan to manage paddy straw generated from approximately 31 lakh hectares of land.

Haryana estimates that about 14.82 lakh hectares of land are under paddy cultivation, which is expected to generate over 7.3 million tonnes of paddy straw (non-basmati). The state is committed to the near elimination of farm fires this year.

Why is this important?

Besides unfavorable weather conditions, paddy straw burning in neighboring states remains a significant contributor to the spike in air pollution levels in Delhi during October and November. Farmers burn their fields to clear crop residue before cultivating wheat and vegetables.

Also Read | Delhi pollution news: ‘Cannot improve air quality completely,’ says AAP cabinet minister

According to the Union Environment Ministry, farm fires accounted for 34 percent of Delhi's PM2.5 pollution on November 3 last year and 48 percent on November 7, 2021.

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Published: 03 Nov 2023, 01:16 PM IST
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