Stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana pushes Delhi’s air quality into danger zone, more ‘poor’ days ahead

Delhi, Delhi pollution, farm fire, stubble burning, AQI, air quality, air pollution, winter, forecast, healthWind, dust, and farm fires are worsening the situation with the officials predicting poor air quality days till October 11. (Reuters photo)

As the air gets colder and denser, more smog-filled days are in store for Delhi-NCR, the pollution watchdog has said. Adding to the Capital’s winter woes are the unending cycles of stubble burning by farmers in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana. According to SAFAR, as many as 399 incidents of stubble burning incidents were recorded on October 7. The Centre’s nodal agency on pollution research has predicted a bleak forecast for the National Capital Region. The slow level of windspeed is the major factor that worsens air quality.

The slow wind speed tends to get denser and collects more pollutants that are extremely harmful to the human lungs and eyes. Also, the lack of moisture in the air translates to a more dusty atmosphere. This can be particularly troublesome for people with breathing issues. Earlier this week, Delhites saw several smog guns strategically placed around construction sites in the city. Many feel that the farm fires are the worst culprit in Delhi’s pollution crisis. There has been a steady rise in the number of stubble burning incidents. According to the latest reports by the Punjab government, there were around 1,523 farm fire incidents this year. For the same period last year, there were little over 200 incidents reported from the state.

Several agencies have demanded a better response from the authorities. While a pre-mandated plan is already in place, many feel that there is a greater need for stringent action. Wind, dust, and farm fires are worsening the situation with the officials predicting poor air quality days till October 11. Earlier this year, the corona lockdown had helped in improving the air quality. A NASA study had said that the air quality in North India was at the best level in the last two decades. Due to the sudden halt in human activities, the pollution levels had dropped significantly.

However, since the gradual opening of the factories and other economic activities, the pollution levels have come back in a poor zone. With many looking for muted celebrations due to the coronavirus pandemic, many feel that it will be green Diwali for Delhi-NCR. In 2018, the Supreme Court had banned the bursting of crackers in Delhi during Diwali celebrations. A year later in 2019, the top court had said that officials should regulate the bursting of crackers.

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