Three Haryana districts farm fire hot spots
Haryana's Fatehabad, Kaithal, and Jind districts have been identified as stubble-burning hotspots, with over 500 fires recorded in each district last winter, according to the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM). Haryana has submitted an action plan to reduce fire counts, with some districts aiming for near elimination. Data shows that nine districts had zero or few incidents, while four had fewer than 100. The CAQM highlighted Sirsa, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Ambala, Yamuna Nagar, and Hisar as districts of concern. Punjab remained the largest source of farm fires, reporting 49,922 instances last year.
Fatehabad, Kaithal and Jind districts in Haryana have been identified as stubble-burning hotspots with a fire count of over 500 in each district last winter, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) said on Friday, following a meeting with the state last week.
The body also said Haryana submitted a state action plan for the management of paddy stubble burning to bring down fire counts substantially — including near elimination in some districts.
Data shared by Haryana to CAQM in the meeting held on September 15, which CAQM shared on Friday, showed that out of the 22 districts, nine had zero or few farm fire incidents last year while four districts — Palwal, Panipat, Rohtak and Sonipat — had fewer than 100 incidents.
“The other districts of concern are Sirsa, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Ambala, Yamuna Nagar and Hisar,” the CAQM said.
Four review meetings have already been held between Haryana and the body ahead of winter in the presence of the chief secretary and district collectors, it added.
Based on satellite data from last year, Haryana classified villages into three categories — red zone or “high risk” villages, where the active fire locations (AFL) were the highest; yellow zone or “moderate risk” villages, where AFLs were moderate; and green zone or “low risk” villages, where fire counts were lowest.
A total of 147 villages are in the red zone, 582 in yellow, and the remaining 6,175 villages in green.
“Most of the red zone villages are located in Fatehabad (49), Kaithal (36), Jind (24), Sirsa (11) and Karnal (10),” the CAQM added.
Between September 15 and November 30 last year, Haryana reported 3,661 fires – almost half of the 6,987 fires in 2021. Punjab, however, remained the largest source of farm fires, recording 49,922 instances. The count was 71,304 fires in 2021.
Delhi and the national capital region annually face a public health crisis in the run-up to and during most of the winter. The crisis begins with the farm fires in Punjab and Haryana, where farmers set fire to miles and miles of paddy fields after harvest to clear them of residue. Meteorological conditions such as a lack of winds that would otherwise blow local pollutants away and festival fireworks during Diwali worsen the crisis. An amalgamation of factors creates conditions that force the shutting of schools, halting of construction work, limits on business, etc.
“With the action plan in place, Haryana is expected to witness a drastic decline in stubble burning cases this year,” the CAQM added.
Experts, meanwhile, said that like the previous years, timely intervention from the federal green authority and proactive measures on the part of the state are imperative in controlling farm fires and the subsequent air quality crisis. “This year too, early intervention of the CAQM for proactive monitoring of on-ground preparedness and the same time, the state government’s strategic interventions in vulnerable districts before the onset of winter are critical. Over the years, Haryana has shown considerable progress in controlling farm fires in the state,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy at the Centre for Science and Environment.