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Pollution Watchdog Hopeful of Peak Farm Fire Period Not Coinciding With Adverse Weather Conditions in Delhi-NCR

News18 logo News18 16-10-2020 Nikhil Ghanekar
a person standing on top of a grass covered field: Pollution Watchdog Hopeful of Peak Farm Fire Period Not Coinciding With Adverse Weather Conditions in Delhi-NCR © Provided by News18 Pollution Watchdog Hopeful of Peak Farm Fire Period Not Coinciding With Adverse Weather Conditions in Delhi-NCR

Even as meteorological conditions have not helped the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) so far in keeping air pollution in check, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is hopeful that peak stubble burning period may still not coincide with adverse weather conditions such as drier air and a drop in mercury.

So far, local pollution sources have been driving up pollution levels in Delhi-NCR, primarily due to the trapping of pollutants such as road dust, vehicular emission, industrial emission and smoke from farm fires.

CPCB officials said that the Delhi saw negligible rainfall in September and October this year compared to 2019 and even the average ventilation index, which is a measure of pollution dispersal conditions, was lower compared to 2019.

In 2019, Delhi recorded 121 mm of rain over seven rainy days; six in September and one in October, whereas only 21 mm rain was recorded in September this year and no rain occurred in October. Rainfall helps settle suspended particulate pollution such as PM 2.5 and PM 10 (particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers and 10 micrometers in diameter).

CPCB officials though added that two factors; a reduction in the land under non-basmati cultivation and early harvest of this variety, may lead to a marginal decrease in stubble fires during the peak stubble fire period from October 12 to November 15.

“In winters, the ventilation index, a combination of horizontal wind dispersion and heat dissipation of pollutants, is very less in landlocked areas like Delhi. This leads to a higher rate of pollution,” said Prashant Gargava, Member Secretary, CPCB.

CPCB officials said paddy straw burning contributed to six per cent of pollution load in Delhi-NCR as on October 15. “The share of pollution from stubble burning varies depending on active fires, meteorology and other factors,” said Shiv Das Meena, Chairman, CPCB.

“Our problem is non-basmati rice. The area under this variety is slightly lesser this time. So we are expecting marginally lesser fires this year. We have more active fire events for past few days due to early harvest this year,” Meena added.

As per government data, in Punjab, the area under non-basmati decreased from 22.91 lakh hectare to 20.76 lakh hectares and in Haryana, it decreased from 6.48 lakh hectares to 4.27 hectares.

Spike in farm fires in Punjab

According to Indian Space Research Organisation’s Bhuvan website, active fires were highest in Punjab.

There were a whopping 805 fires in Punjab between October 15 morning and afternoon of October 16. Satellites captured 308 fires in Amritsar alone, 141 in Firozpur, 78 in Patiala, 67 in Gurdaspur and 43 in Faridkot. In the same period, Haryana recorded 118 fires. The fires were mostly concentrated in Karnal (35), Kuruksehtra (23) and Kaithal (22).

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