State sees season’s highest farm fires in a day, AQI stays ‘poor’
Punjab on Wednesday recorded the highest number of stubble burning incidents in the ongoing harvesting season at 3,135, as per the data of the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre in Ludhiana.
With this, the total number of farm fires has reached 19,869 so far.
“The figure crossed such incidents reported in 2017 when the state reported 2,975 cases the same day,” Dr Brijendra Pateriya, director of the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre.
Sangrur district topped the chart with 550 cases, followed by Bathinda at 348, Ferozepur by 328 and Mansa at 285.
“The majority of fire incidents are occurring in the Malwa belt that comprises 60% of Punjab’s area. Teams have been told to counsel the farmers,” said a Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) official.
The air quality index (AQI) in major cities of the state hovered over 250 mark, categorised as poor by pollution control agencies, even as it improved from the ‘very poor’ category. Also, particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 10 has increased in the air, raising alarm.
Patiala continued to be Punjab’s most polluted city on Wednesday with AQI reaching 281.
“There has been increase in the number of patients with breathing problems by 30-40% in the last three days. Smog is causing chest infection and breathing problems. Most of the patients are from rural areas. We are advising people not to go to smog-hit areas,” said JL Joshi, assistant professor at Government Medical College, Patiala.
Also, Munish Munjal, head of the ENT department at the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, said they are receiving a large number of patients from urban and rural areas.