Indian state Punjab reported more than 1500 farm fires, while many parts of Haryana state saw air quality indices in the "severe" and "very poor" categories.
The total number of farm fires increased to 20,978. According to Ludhiana-based Punjab Remote Sensing Centre data, 1,515 such cases were reported in last week alone.
Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana states is the Major reason behind the spike in air pollution levels in India's capital -New Delhi, during October and November.
As the window for wheat, a key Rabi crop, also known as winter crop - is very short after paddy harvest, some farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the crop residue for sowing the next crop.
In Punjab, Sangrur city continues to top with 397 such paddy straw cases, followed by 147 in Barnala, 137 in Mansa, 129 in Bathinda, 97 in Ferozepur, 93 in Moga, and 86 in Ludhiana.
In 2021 and 2022, the state had seen 5,199 and 2,487 active fires around same time respectively.
From September 15 to November 7, Sangrur reported the maximum stubble burning cases of 3,604. Ferozpur followed by 2,073, 1,847 in Tarn Taran, 1,588 in Mansa, 1,444 in Amritsar, 1,418 in Patiala, and 1,215 in Bathinda.
Haryana's Air Quality Index (AQI) has decreased because of field burning. Haryana's Fatehabad recorded an AQI of 421, followed by Hisar at 403, Jind at 384, Sonipat at 381, Kaithal at 377, Faridabad at 374, Gurugram at 364, Bhiwani at 361, Sirsa at 334, Panipat 328 and Rohtak 326.
In Punjab, Bathinda reported AQI at 343, followed by Mandi Gobindgarh at 299, Jalandhar at 252, Patiala at 250, Ludhiana at 239, Amritsar at 205 and Khanna at 203.
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), a statutory body responsible for building strategies to combat air pollution, on Sunday decided to activate Stage IV of the Graded Response Action Plan in the entire National Capital Region with immediate effect.
Haryana State Pollution Control Board is also taking strict actions to combat severe AQI. The board's chairman, P Raghavendra Rao, on Tuesday gave necessary guidelines while holding a meeting of Deputy Commissioners.
Punjab Agricultural University's vice-chancellor Satbir Singh Gosal Tuesday appealed to farmers not to burn crop residue as people were gasping for breath due to severe air pollution.
"Ever since November started, paddy straw burning cases are on the rise," he said in a statement.
Gosal said setting straw ablaze was not a sensible solution to vacate fields for the wheat sowing. Smoke was being carried by winds to other states, deteriorating air quality and creating breathing difficulties for citizens.
He asked the farmers to be wise, sensible, and have some mercy on humanity.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered good. Between 51 and 100 satisfactory, 101 and 200 moderate, 201 and 300 poor, 301 and 400 very poor, and 401 and 500 severe.
Image Credit- Reuters
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