Air

Crop burning: Dreadful pollution back in Delhi, air quality plunges

Air quality in Delhi and some cities in Uttar Pradesh plunged in the last fortnight as farmers started burning stubble

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Friday 12 October 2018
Delhi Air pollution
Credit: Getty Images Credit: Getty Images

Last winter, the Delhi-NCR suffered one of the worst bouts of pollution. The entire region was in the grip of haze and smog. The last few days in the National Capital Region do not spring any hope that the dreadful episode will not come back to haunt us. Anti-pollution masks are already out in the Delhi-NCR region. As the air quality plummets to ‘poor’ level, people are advised not to stay outdoors for long. This has become a trend every year during the transition from harvesting Kharif crops and sowing Rabi crops.

The air quality in Delhi and some cities in Uttar Pradesh plunged in the last fortnight as farmers started burning the leftover stubble after paddy is harvested. NASA EARth Observatory shows a stark change in number of fire incidents in Haryana and Punjab between September 25 and October 11. In fact, some places in Punjab recorded more than 150 incidents in a day.

The NASA map makes it evident that fire incidents are concentrated in two states—Haryana and Punjab—with an average of 40-70 fire incidents in a day. However, data from Haryana Pollution Control Board reportedly suggests that farm fires (180) from September 25 to October 10 were 50 per cent lower than during the same period (343) last year.

Credit: NASA

The increasing cases of fire incidents have a direct bearing on the air quality as evident from the data. The air quality index of October 1, released by the Central Pollution Control Board, shows that air quality in Delhi and neighbouring cities was in moderate category. The situation worsened in less than 10 days, as evident from the air quality bulletin issued on October 10. All the eight cities that we looked at registered a significant decline in air quality, reaching ‘poor’ category.

Cities

AQI on Oct 1

AQI on Oct 10

Delhi

148

241

Faridabad

131

262

Ghaziabad

148

233

Lucknow

195

228

Moradabad 

114

217

Muzaffarnagar

114

212

Noida

149

243

Patna

173

245

Explainer: Air quality is considered moderate when the AQI is between 101-200 and poor, when AQI is between 201-300

According to media reports, farmers, who continue to burn stubble despite a ban, claim that they are forced to do this as they have no alternative. There have also been complaints about an acute shortage of ‘Happy Seeder Machines’ due to their high cost. By doing in-situ straw management, these machines reduce the scope of stubble burning.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :
Related Stories

India Environment Portal Resources :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.