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Smog from stubble-burning poisons Punjab, Haryana air

punjab Updated: Nov 03, 2015 09:32 IST
Vishav Bharti

An aeroplane flying over SAS Nagar on Monday as smog envelopes the region.(Gurminder Singh//HT)

Punjab and Haryana were choking on smog all Monday and it got worse by the evening. The metrological centre identified the reason behind it — the burning of paddy stubble during increased moisture in the air.

The weather will start improving from Tuesday and the rain forecast after Wednesday will clear the sky. “The increased level of moisture in the air is because of winds from the Yemen cyclone. Stubble burning became a contributing factor,” said Chandigarh Metrological Centre director Surender Paul. He said the stillness in the weather left dust particles hanging in the air. “The fall in temperature over the past few days helped smog further,” he said.

Inhaling the noxious mix of gases made people uneasy. Health experts said the current weather was unsuitable for people living with asthma and other respiratory problems. However, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPPCB) officials said that because of the extended paddy harvesting season, the conditions were better than the last year when by end of October, it was difficult to breathe and you could smell smoke in the air.

“The current paddy harvesting is likely to take another week to conclude. It helped a lot in keeping the density of smoke in the air low,” said PPCB deputy director Charanjit Singh. The effect of the smog was seen up to Delhi. The meteorological centre has forecast cloudy sky on Tuesday and light rain in Punjab and Haryana on Wednesday and in the subsequent two days, which will help the smog settle down. The maximum temperature now is around 28.5 degrees Celsius and the minimum around 16.3°C. Relative humidity, a marker of the moisture content in the air, is 83% maximum, and 45% minimum.

Farmers continue to ignore warning

Chandigarh: The farmers in Punjab and Haryana continue to burn paddy stubble in their fields, ignoring warnings by the state authorities that it poses health-related risks and affects soil health. Both states have imposed a ban on burning paddy residue, which can lead to prosecution of the erring farmers. However, reports from various parts of the two states suggest farmers still flout the ban in spite of the subsidy on farm implements such as happy seeder, rotavators, straw reapers for managing straw in a sustainable manner. “Farmers, especially the small ones, prefer to burn paddy stubble rather than using solutions such as happy seeder since they think it involves spending money,” Punjab commissioner of agriculture BS Sidhu said here on Monday.

(With inputs from PTI)