Farm fires down nearly 20%: Haryana pollution watchdog
Experts have said that intense stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana contributes to high level of pollution during the winter months in north India.Updated: Nov 18, 2019 07:08 IST
The Haryana pollution watchdog on Tuesday reported that there has been an almost 20% drop in paddy stubble burning cases in the state between September 25 and November 11 as compared to the same period last year.
The Haryana Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) data shows that incidents of stubble burning from September 25 till November 11 was 6,008, down from the 7,494 cases reported last year during the same period. The cases are monitored through satellites.
HSPCB scientist Rajesh Gharia attributed the decline to intensive efforts on part of the state government to spread awareness among farmers and prosecuting those who violated the Supreme Court ban on stubble burning.
Experts have said that intense stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana contributes to high level of pollution during the winter months in north India.
Till now, the highest number of cases – 1175 – has been reported from Kaithal, followed by 1143 in Fatehabad and 1081 in Karnal. The Haryana Space Application Centre (Harsac) data shows that a maximum number of fire incidents in the state were reported on November 4 with 404 cases of paddy straw burning, followed by 382 on October 20.
On the other hand, Gurugram reported only three cases of stubble burning.
According to Sumit Sharma, associate director, Earth Science and Climate Division, TERI, fewer reported cases do not imply that biomass burning did not contribute to overall pollutant accumulation in the city’s atmosphere.
“During this time of the year, stubble burning is a major concern for the dip in the air quality. It is a major source of PM2.5 in Gurugram’s atmosphere, exceeding to almost 40% which is generally 15% during the rest of the winter months,” said Sharma, attributing the flow of pollutants from upwind regions outside NCR as a major reason behind the sharp increase in PM2.5 level.
Citing a 2018 study by TERI on source apportionment of PM2.5 and PM10 of Delhi-NCR, Sharma said that besides biomass burning, 20% pollutant emission in Gurugram is by dust and construction work, 30% by industries, 27% by vehicles and 8% by other sources. According to him, since Gurugram lies on the southern side of Delhi, this percentage is less compared to Delhi and Ghaziabad.
The HSPCB, on the other hand, believes that emission from crackers and dirty-fuel based industries led to severe air pollution. Rajesh Garhia, senior scientist, HSPCB, said, “More than stubble burning, the pollutants from crackers and hot mix plants running on coal or dirty-fuel led to poor air quality in Delhi and its surrounding areas.”
He said, “We are keeping a check on stubble burning in the state and taking action accordingly. Wind speed and sudden lowering of temperature in October do not allow the suspended particle to be carried further to the upper atmosphere. It settles at a lower mixing height closer to the surface.”