Sharp jump in crop residue burning in Punjab, Haryana in last 10 days.
New Delhi: Recent satellite images from the US space agency Nasa have revealed that farmers in Punjab and Haryana started burning crop residue earlier this month, thus raising the spectre of another smoggy winter for the national capital and the neighbouring areas.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) stated on its official website that burning crop residue in Punjab and Haryana has increased significantly over the past 10 days in areas such as Amritsar, Ambala, Karnal, Sirsa, Hisar, etc.
The main stubble-burning season normally begins after October 15 and continues for around a month. The burning of paddy straw every year during October and November and wheat in April in Punjab and Haryana is one of the major contributors of air pollution in Delhi-NCR as smoke from the farms travel towards the national capital, which lies just a few kilometres towards the Southeast of these agricultural states.
In Delhi, it mixes with the fog and creates a toxic smoggy winter every year. However, experts said that there is no impact yet in the region from stubble burning. In addition, this year the Punjab Pollution Control Board has assured reduced stubble burning as thousands of straw management and harvester machines have been supplied to farmers at subsidised rates.
In a statement on October 8, Delhi environment minister Imran Hussain had said that the Delhi government would initiate legal action against the Union and state governments if effective steps to mitigate the menace of stubble burning were not initiated.
In August this year, a parliamentary report on air pollution in the national capital said that despite a series of measures — including a statutory ban — taken by the neighbouring states of Delhi to curb crop burning, air pollution in Delhi-NCR hasn’t improved much. In fact, it has been deteriorating further.
Expressing strong reservations towards “failure” of states like Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh in taking effective steps, the standing committee report said that weak enforcement of statutory ban “coupled with laxity towards sensitivity and gravity of the matter” has adversely affected the ongoing efforts to tackle the issue.