Not Much Respite Likely From Stubble Burning In Punjab, Haryana And UP Even This Year
Despite claims of the Union government that crop stubble burning has declined, it seems it will be rampant even this year. Nasa satellites have already started showing red dots, indicating open burning in Punjab and Haryana.
Daily data of fire instances, collated from Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) feed of Nasa, show a reduction in the number of instances from 2016 to 2018, especially in Punjab. In this state, the highest recorded instances were 7,755 on November 7, 2016. In 2017, 4,623 fires were reported on November 4, while on November 8, 2018 it was 4,473.
Punjab records the most cases of stubble burning with Amritsar, Firozpur, Ludhiana, Faridkot, Bathinda, Mansa, Patiala and Sangrur districts contributing nearly 45% to the total emission, an IIT-Delhi study has pointed out. In Haryana, Kaithal, Hisar and Sirsa districts contribute 17% to the pollution.
According to the VIIRS data, the highest recorded instances in Haryana were 736 on November 7, 2016. In 2017, it was 491 on November 4, while it was 559 on November 7, 2018. In Uttar Pradesh, the highest number of fires was 413 on November 3, 2016. In 2017, there were 358 fires on November 5 and 372 on November 8, 2018.
Earlier, the Union ministry of agriculture had noted that the number of stubble burning incidents had reduced by 41% in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in 2018 as compared to 2016. The daily data also showed that stubble burning starts at the end of September and increases substantially in October and November. The peak period is October-end and the first fortnight of November.
Most farmers in north India prepare their fields for the wheat crop in October-November by burning the stubble left after rice has been harvested. Due to stubble burning, 30kg of nitrogen per hectare, 13.8kg of phosphorus, 30kg of potassium, 6.48kg sulphur, 2,400kg carbon and several useful microbial organisms perish, besides resulting in environmental pollution.
Both the central and state governments have come up with incentives, penalties and even allocated over Rs 1,000 crore to combat this menace, which adds to the air pollution load in Delhi and propels it to toxic levels.
Open biomass burning contributes 20-25% to PM2.5 in Delhi, a 2018 study by Teri has revealed. However, experts said that stubble burning is a seasonal issue and impacts the city’s air quality during two months every year.
“There has been a declining trend in the past three years, which is a positive sign. Punjab and Haryana gain more attention because the pollutants get partly transported to Delhi. We have found that 45-50% times air from these two states comes to Delhi during the peak burning season. However, focused action is required in particular districts where most cases of crop burning occur,” said Sagnik Dey, associate professor, Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, IIT-Delhi, and coordinator CERCA.