See Crop Fires in Punjab and Haryana this year again | Pollution

Crop Fire Punjab

NEW DELHI: People in the country’s capital and towns in Haryana and Punjab are again going to suffer pollution and smog this winter. Despite a ban and dire warnings from the Delhi high court, crop fires have started raging across Punjab and northern Haryana, data from NASA satellites reveals. In what could be further bad news for Delhi’s air quality, the data indicates that the fires may have begun early this year, compared with 2015.
Images from the same period last year show visibly fewer fire spots.
The burning of paddy stubbles to clear the fields for winter sowing is a rampant practice in Punjab and Haryana, leading to severe air pollution across the region. It’s one of the contributors to the sharp drop in air quality usually seen over Delhi-NCR in October-November.

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An image from NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) website on Wednesday shows ‘fire spots’ dotting Punjab and northern Haryana. Each spot denotes thermal and fire anomalies detected by NASA’s satellites. The maps give an idea about the geographic spread of crop burning. The fire patterns have been similar from October 8 onwards.

Images from the same period last year show visibly fewer fire spots. Stubble burning usually peaks in early November.

On October 6, the Delhi high court had warned the chief secretaries of four states (Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan) that they would be held responsible if crop burning persisted in their states this year.

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The fires may start impacting Delhi’s air quality in the coming days. All of this week, Delhi recorded “poor” air quality according to Central Pollution Control Board’s air quality index bulletin.

Some Delhi government officials also noticed the fires on satellite maps but said they had already written to the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan requesting them to strictly implement the ban on agricultural waste burning. Delhi government had also written to the Union environment minister on October 4, requesting the ministry to direct the three states to prevent farm fires.

“The government has already taken up the matter with them. Even the high court had directed these states to ensure there is no burning of paddy straw. Now I am not sure what else can be done,” a senior environment department official said.

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The Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) had held a meeting on October 7 with chief secretaries and senior officials of Punjab and Haryana governments on crop stubble burning. Bhure Lal, head of EPCA, made a number of directions to ensure “zero crop stubble burning” this year.