Delhi air to worsen in next 3 days, thanks to stubble burning

Amid the protests over farm Bills, Punjab farmers are back at burning stubble. Satellite images released by NASA show that stubble burning has started for nearly five days in the farm basket of India

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
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IANS

It's that time of the year in Punjab-Haryana-NCR.

Amid the protests over farm Bills, Punjab farmers are back at burning stubble. Satellite images released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)show that stubble burning has started for nearly five days in the farm basket of India, which means in the next three days, Delhi's air may turn into 'poor' category amid the Covid-19 pandemic, sparking health concerns.

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) has already started to show the results with Delhi's air quality turning 'moderate'.

To put things into context, the air quality in Mumbai and Ahmedabad is 'satisfactory', while it is 'good' in Pune.

SAFAR has red-flagged that in the next three days alone, PM 2.5, which is in moderate quantity in Delhi air as of now, will turn into 'poor'. As on Saturday, PM 2.5 count in Delhi air was 68. In the next three days, it is likely to reach 96. PM 2.5 count in Mumbai was 33 on Saturday, and is likely to go up to 35 in the next three days.

While farmers are being brazen about the Supreme Court guidelines on stubble burning, the state administrations too seem to have turned away their attention from it.

In August this year, the Supreme Court had asked Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and other state governments about their preparedness to prevent stubble burning.

Like in recent years, when Delhi turned into a gas chamber last year, the Supreme Court had asked, "Why are people being forced to live in gas chambers?"

But less than a year on, Punjab farmers are back at what they do while complaining that with no financial support to avail alternative methods, burning stubbles is all they can afford.

Hemant Kaushal, Project Coordinator at the Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, told IANS, "Unlike other years, we have a pandemic this year which affects the lungs. A gas chamber in Delhi will only aggravate the situation as far as the fight against Covid-19 in Delhi-NCR is concerned."

"This needs to be curbed immediately. This stubble burning carries on from October to November and badly affects Delhi-NCR. We can not wait for that," he added.

SAFAR warned on Saturday, "A marginal increase in stubble burning was witnessed in Punjab and its neighbouring border areas on Friday. High surface winds are expected for the next two days. Favoruable ventilation condition is likely to keep Delhi AQI in the moderate category for the next two days. AQI may reach the high end of the moderate category by September 29."

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