Congress-ruled Punjab accounts for 83% of open fires affecting Delhi-NCR air quality: NASA data

As Delhi-NCR grapples with its annual air quality problem with onset of winter, it has been revealed that as of 28 Oct, Punjab alone accounted for over 83% of the open fires which are a major source of air pollution in the national capital region.

NASA satellite imagery shared by Delhi-based environmental NGO CEEW (Council on Energy, Environment and Water) showed that Punjab had 2847 open fires, compared to 341 in Haryana and 228 in Western UP.

Farmers in Northern Bharat resort to stubble burning as a post-harvest practise to prepare the land for sowing the next crop. The smoke generated by these fires is a major contributor to the haze and smoke which descends on Delhi-NCR every year in the months of Oct-Nov.

For the last few years, the Government has been encouraging farmers to avoid stubble burning and instead use discounted farm equipment to remove the stubble and recycle it. Residents of Gurugram will be familiar with the ads on FM radio and elsewhere informing farmers about these tools and the Custom Hiring Centres (CHC) where they are available.

As per the data, it appears that while state governments of Haryana and UP have managed to curb the stubble burning practise to a large extent, Congress-ruled Punjab has not.

Image Courtesy: India Today

While Haryana — an agrarian state like Punjab — had stray incidents of stubble burning, Punjab was almost completely covered in red dots as per the NASA data of Oct 28.

The Air Quality Index for Delhi  — a number used to communicate the level of pollution in the air — was recorded at 356 today, which makes the air quality “very poor” on the country’s five-level air monitoring system. There is a fear that as smoke from the recent Punjab farm fires heads towards Delhi, the air quality could worsen to ‘Severe’.

Incidentally, this severe degradation in Delhi’s air quality has come before Diwali, before the cracker bursting that is projected as a major source of air pollution.

As per studies, Bharat’s cities have poor air quality through the year, with Delhi being the worst. Construction and vehicular traffic are said to be the two largest contributors of air pollution in Delhi, with the practice of stubble burning in nearby states being the third.