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Home / India News / Very poor air chokes parts of NW India

Very poor air chokes parts of NW India

Crop fires are likely to peak next week, when the harvesting is mid-way, farm leaders said.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2020, 07:04 IST
Jayashree Nandi
Jayashree Nandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
NASA satellite images from October 10, showing farm fires in north India.
NASA satellite images from October 10, showing farm fires in north India.(Sourced)

New Delhi: For the past four days, several parts of northwest India have started recording “poor” air quality—a result of north-westerly calm winds and crop fires flaring across Punjab and Haryana. On Monday air quality deteriorated further with Baghpat, Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh; Kurukshetra and Panipat in Haryana recording “very poor” category air.

Also Read: Delhi: Pollution levels likely to dip today, reach moderate level

Harvesting has only begun in the north-western states; crop fires are likely to peak next week when harvesting is mid-way, farm leaders said.

Though NASA satellite images show widespread fires in Punjab and Haryana, IMD expects impact from the smoke may reduce over the next 3 to 4 days because of a likely change in wind direction from north-westerly to easterly. Moisture in the air is also likely to increase for a few days until wind direction changes back to north-westerly.

The air quality early warning system under the union ministry of earth sciences (MoES) had forecast on Sunday that air quality in Delhi would improve after wind direction changes to easterly. But dispersal of pollutants was impacted by very low wind speed. “Winds have been blowing under 5 kmph at Safdarjung. It’s not suitable for dispersion yet,” said Kuldeep Shrivastava, head, regional weather forecasting centre.

“Though winds are changing, the wind speed is very low so dispersion is not happening as we had expected. While we do not expect any further deterioration in air quality in the next two to three days, we can’t say air quality will improve. Winds were calm during the evening for the last 4 to 5 days. So even though the contribution from crop fires to air pollution isn’t as high now air quality has deteriorated due to lack of dispersion,” said Vijay Soni, a scientist at the air pollution division of India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Delhi, Agra, Bulandshahr, Bahadurgarh, Ballabgarh, Bhiwadi, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Lucknow, Karnal and other north-western towns also recorded poor air on Sunday.

Night or minimum temperature is also likely to rise as moisture laden, warmer winds enter the north-western region from Monday, added Kuldeep Shrivastava, head, Regional Weather Forecasting Centre.

“Harvesting has only started now in Punjab. It will peak next week when crop fires will also rise. We have been saying for a long time that in the absence of a direct subsidy crop fires will continue because a subsidy on the straw management machinery is not enough for small farmers,” said Harinder Singh Lakhowal, Bharatiya Kisan Union general secretary, Punjab.

Also Read: Monsoon withdrawal delayed till October 20: IMD

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in an order dated October 7 issued notices to Centre and north-western states on the issue of crop stubble burning. SC directed Tushar Mehta, solicitor general appearing on behalf of the Centre to file replies to an application on the issue. SC has also summoned chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana on the next date of hearing. One of the prayers of the applicant, Vikrant Tongad is to formulate a mechanism wherein an incentive of Rs 100 per quintal would be part of the total minimum support price which can be withheld until farmer can assure that there is no stubble fire in his farm.

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