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Winter is coming to north, so is toxic air

Quality of air may worsen in Delhi after a week due to stubble burning & lower temperature.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Oct 15, 2019, 07.58 PM IST
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NCR's air quality worsens as farmers continue to burn crop stubble
NCR's air quality worsens as farmers continue to burn crop stubble
CHANDIGARH: Air quality in northern India, particularly Delhi, is expected to deteriorate to very dangerous levels after a week because of lower temperature and increased burning of harvest residue in the region, but for the next two days favourable wind will prevent the flow of smoke into the capital.

Incidents of burning of crop residue, which poison Delhi’s air with alarmingly high levels of pollution, have started increasing in Punjab and Haryana, and are likely to peak after a week, officials said. “The brunt of fire will come in the next week when harvest commences in Sangrur, Patiala, Ludhiana and Fatehabad districts where the practice of open field burning has been rampant in the last year,” an official in Punjab said.

In Haryana, which shares a border with Delhi, officials said many more fires will blaze next week when the crop matures in the districts of Sirsa, Hisar and Faridabad where half of burning incidents were reported last year.

Farmers say they have no choice but to burn away the harvest residue because they have a very small window to prepare the fields after the extended monsoon season delayed the harvest of kharif, or summer-sown, crops.

Officials said extensive campaigns against the polluting practice has reduced the number of fires to some extent but as of Sunday, 833 incidents of farm fires were reported in Punjab and 750 in Haryana. S Narayanan, member secretary, Haryana Pollution Control Board, said there was a 12% fall in area where crop stubble was burnt in fields.

“We are hopeful that extensive awareness and demonstration drive will exhort more farmers to desist from open field burning of stubble,” he said.

Officials said Amritsar and Tarn Tarn districts accounted for most of the farm fires in Punjab.

“Most of the incidents have happened in cases where the farmers have sown third crop of perishables including potato and vegetables,” an official of agriculture department said.

In Haryana, the fire incidents so far are concentrated in northern districts of Kaithal, Kurukshetra and Karnal where paddy harvest is at an advanced stage. The authorities in Punjab and Haryana say more farmers have been given machines to manage harvest residue instead of burning it.

According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), which is under the ministry of earth sciences, the overall air quality of Delhi is in the higher end of the poor category, as forecast and touched very poor category on Sunday night for a brief period.

“Although the stubble burning activity in Haryana, Punjab, and nearby border regions is moderate, there is going to be a significant change in circulation pattern and direction as transport height is going to be southeasterly, means impact of biomass is going to be negligible,” the latest pollution assessment from SAFAR said.

It said a cyclonic circulation was developing over northwest Uttar Pradesh and neighbourhood, which would prevent Delhi’s air quality from deteriorating more than the “middle-end of poor category for next two days.”

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