Stubble burning down in Punjab, Haryana, UP since 2016: NASA maps

Data from the agency shows that all three states have made progress in reducing stubble burning between 2016 and 2019

By Shagun
Published: Monday 09 December 2019
Stubble burning in Haryana. Photo: Vikas Choudhary

The number of stubble burning cases during the post paddy harvest season (October and November) in the three states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh has come down by 50 per cent compared to four years ago, according to data obtained through NASA fire maps between 2016 and 2019. 

Every year from October, Delhi's air quality takes a turn for the worse as meteorological factors plus local emissions affect it adversely. The pollution levels see a spike when farmers in these three states burn the residue after harvesting paddy to clear the fields of the summer harvest and make way for the sowing of wheat. The smoke from these fires travels to Delhi, leading to the formation of a cocktail of toxic gases that choke the city. 

There has been a ban on burning this agricultural residue but state authorities have not been able to abolish the practice completely. However, as the data suggests, there has been some success in controlling it in the last few years. 

Since 2016, while Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have seen a sharp and consistent decline in such cases, the reduction in stubble burning in Punjab has been somewhat erratic. 

For example, in November 2016, the number of crop residue fires was high at 51,150 but it came down to 28,078 next year during the same period, only to rise again to 39,231 in 2018. It again fell to 26,260 such cases being recorded in November this year. 

However, there has been an overall cumulative fall in such cases in the state for both months combined in the last four years.  

Haryana has managed to bring down its stubble burning by around 55 per cent since 2016. This year, in the post paddy harvest season, 6,020 cases have been recorded by satellite data. This is a significant reduction from 2016, when 13,378 such cases were recorded. The figure is also substantially less than 2018 when 9,031 such cases were recorded. 

In Uttar Pradesh (UP), there has been a 53 per cent overall fall between 2016 and 2019.

While 9,096 such cases were recorded in the months of October and November in 2016, the figure came down to 4,264 in 2019. 

According to the data, UP usually sees twice the number of cases in November compared to October. The state has also managed to control this and bring down the numbers in this month consistently. 

The number of stubble fires in UP decreased from 5,616 in November 2016 to 5,043 in 2017 to 4,470 in 2018 and finally to 2,779 recorded in 2019. 

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