During the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Delhi reclaimed its clear blue skyline for obvious reasons. But with most of the activities having resumed, the haze is slowly creeping in. And, this might worsen during the harvest season when farmers in the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab set their fields ablaze to clear off paddy residue.
A report by Hindustan Times states that satellite images from space agency NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) shows farmers have already started burning crop residue in parts of Punjab and Haryana.
Every winter, not just Delhi, but also large parts of north India are frequently enveloped in a thick blanket of smog, caused by air pollution from vehicular and industrial emissions mixing with fog. The burning of post-harvest paddy stubble in the agricultural fields of Haryana and Punjab is often cited as a major cause of this unhealthy smog.
Farmers in agrarian states of Haryana and Punjab have, in the past few years, set paddy residue on fire despite the practise being banned. Many violators have been fined and others booked for stubble burning.
According to Hindustan Times report, data from NASA’s fire information for resource management system shows a progressive increase in detection of fire in farmland areas. A research scientist at Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research, Pawan Gupta said that the crop fires in the state of Punjab and Haryana have started appearing in India. And the maximum number of fires, shown as red spots on map, is from Amritsar district in Punjab. As per data, between September 13 and September 16, five to seven fires were spotted through satellite monitoring.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, stubble burning by farmers in Punjab and Haryana contributed significantly to air pollution in Delhi last year with the share of farm fire smoke in particulate matter peaking to 44 per cent in November.
Last year, Punjab produced around 20 million tonnes paddy residue and farmers burnt 9.8 million tonnes of it, according to government data. Similarly, Haryana produced 7 million tonnes of paddy residue last year, of which 1.23 million tonnes was burnt, it said. Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh attract attention during the paddy harvesting season between October 15 and November 15.