Thursday, 2 December, 2021
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Hardlook: Delhi holds its breath

Each winter, the nationwide capital and surrounding NCR areas grapple with extreme air air pollution from a number of inner sources resembling mud and vehicular emissions in addition to meteorological circumstances like low wind velocity, temperature, and humidity. Add stubble burning to this cocktail and Delhi is enveloped in a gray haze for the whole thing of winter.

Whereas Delhi has loved a comparatively cleaner pre-winter interval (September 1-October 15) this yr in comparison with earlier years, as per an evaluation by the Centre for Science and Surroundings, specialists attributed this to the prolonged rainfall as properly a delayed paddy harvest in Punjab and Haryana. With paddy stubble burning anticipated to rise within the subsequent few days, air pollution too is predicted to go up.

The harvest and the ensuing paddy stubble burning are simply beginning off in Punjab. The delay this yr is due to the monsoon, which withdrew later than ordinary. Round 28% paddy has been harvested within the state until October 22 towards 41% final yr on the identical date.

Hearth stats

Between September 1 and October 22, Punjab’s hearth rely was 5,772 — decrease than the hearth rely of 11,664 until October 22 final yr, the best determine since 2016. However this yr’s rely is larger than that of 2019 (4,042) and 2018 (3,502). Haryana’s hearth rely until October 22 was 2,413, up from 2,121 final yr. In 2019, the determine for a similar time-frame was 2,755, whereas it stood at 2,503 in 2018.

That is as per figures offered by Pawan Gupta, senior scientist, Earth Sciences on the Universities House Analysis Affiliation, NASA Marshall House Flight Centre, USA, of information from the Seen Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), an instrument on board NASA’s Suomi Nationwide Polar-Orbiting Partnership satellite tv for pc.


Why give attention to stubble burning

In 2009, the Punjab Preservation of Sub Soil Act was enacted to arrest declining groundwater ranges. This delayed the sowing date to match it with the monsoon onset to cut back the burden on floor water for irrigation. Consequently, the harvest was delayed, additionally lowering the time wanted to handle the stubble and put together for the subsequent crop, mentioned L S Kurinji, programme affiliate on the analysis establishment, Council on Vitality, Surroundings and Water (CEEW). This then synchronised with the shift in wind path in October and November which favour the carrying of smoke in direction of Delhi. Farm fires within the month of September don’t have an effect on Delhi as a lot because the wind path then is generally south westerly, she mentioned.

Based on the Punjab Distant Sensing Centre (PRSC) at Punjab Agricultural College in Ludhiana, which information farm fires by satellite tv for pc pictures, the incidence of stubble burning until October 21 are 4,327 — 3,402 came about in simply 9 days from October 13 to 21.

District-wise cumulative hearth counts in Punjab between September 1 and October 22 signifies that Amritsar and Tarn Taran have the best, within the vary above 850. In Haryana, the districts of Kaithal and Karnal present the best counts (over 460), maps that Gupta offered present.

“The hearth rely is decrease this yr however evaluating it to final yr’s figures may not work. Final yr, as a result of labour shortage induced by the pandemic, extra farmers adopted the ‘direct seeder’ method which resulted in an early harvest and early burning,” mentioned L S Kurinji, programme affiliate on the analysis establishment, Council on Vitality, Surroundings and Water (CEEW).

Farm fires normally start within the final week of September, however this yr the rains have delayed the harvest in Amritsar and Tarn Taran the place the early maturing rice varieties are grown, Kurinji mentioned. These districts are normally the place the burning begins, she added.

The contribution of stubble burning to PM 2.5 ranges in Delhi hit a excessive of 14% on October 16 this yr, having remained under 5% until then. “The hearth counts are taken and the realm the place these counts are is set earlier than we develop an emission stock because of these hearth counts. Then we run the mannequin to determine what the contribution from the hearth counts is,” mentioned Gufran Beig, founder undertaking director, SAFAR.


Efforts are on to assist farmers swap to the Pusa bio-decomposer, developed by the Indian Agricultural Analysis Institute (IARI) to assist the decomposition of crop residue, which is being touted as a cleaner various than setting hearth to fields.

The Delhi authorities has begun spraying the answer on harvested paddy fields, overlaying 4,000 acres out of a complete of almost 14,000 acres beneath paddy cultivation.

Indramani Mishra, head of the Agricultural Engineering Division, IARI, mentioned the Punjab authorities has procured the decomposer by a licensee to cowl round 3,000 hectares whereas the Haryana authorities will likely be overlaying round 1 lakh acres. The UP authorities has additionally procured from a licensee for 10 lakh acres.

A licensed non-public firm additionally plans on offering the decomposer for 3 lakh acres in Haryana and a pair of lakh acres in Punjab at no cost as a part of their CSR exercise, Mishra mentioned.

Going by knowledge accessible on the web site of the Authorities of Punjab’s Division of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, an estimated space of 31.49 lakh hectares was cultivated with paddy in 2020-21.

Nonetheless, solely a small part of farmers will likely be utilizing the decomposer, mentioned Harinder Singh Lakhowal, Common Secretary, Bharatiya Kisan Union, Punjab.

“There isn’t sufficient time to spray the decomposer and await it to work,” Lakhowal mentioned, explaining why farmers have been unlikely to make use of it. Some farmers may need to develop greens between paddy and wheat, he identified. Moreover, the predominant number of rice being grown in Punjab is PUSA-44 — this one has a better yield, he mentioned, however it’s also the ‘late’ selection, which is harvested later.

Options to each the decomposer and burning embody a ‘glad seeder,’ which cuts the straw and sows the seeds for the rabi crop on the similar time. Even with the subsidy, it stays out of attain for a lot of farmers, Lakhowal mentioned.

Manmohan Kalia Joint Director, Farm Equipment Wing, Punjab Agriculture Division and Nodal Officer, Stubble Administration, Punjab, mentioned, “Punjab goes to have over 1 lakh machines within the state by this paddy harvesting season. At current, 86,000 machines can be found that are ample for stubble administration equipment as a result of this isn’t the height season, which begins at first of November. Farmers, nevertheless, usually are not availing these machines due to growing diesel prices and different elements.”

‘Burning stubble simpler’

Regardless of spending over Rs 1,000 crore on subsidised equipment to handle stubble in Punjab — which produces round 20 million paddy stubble yearly — burning straw throughout the state continues, with the Majha area on prime of the chart at the moment. In Tarn Taran and Amritsar, which fall within the area, burning fields may be noticed each few 100 metres in round half a dozen blocks. The 2 districts are additionally liable for 43.4% of the overall stubble burning within the state until October 21.

Farmers right here sow brief period kinds of paddy (non-basmati) and basmati rice crops. These have been harvested between September 10 and October 20. For them, stubble burning is handy and price efficient.

In Jandiala Guru, Tarsikka, Majitha and Ajnala blocks in Amritsar and Khadur Sahib, and Chohla Sahib blocks in Tarn Taran, farmers sow greens like matar (inexperienced peas) and desk potatoes after harvesting paddy. Peas and potatoes are sown between October 1-20 in these blocks.

Jeet Singh, a farmer from Tarn Taran, mentioned, “I harvested the short-duration number of paddy final week on 5 acres of land. I now should sow the pea crop; sowing time was as much as October 20 which I can not delay. I used to be left with simply 5-6 days to clear my fields as a result of for sowing greens, you want a clear discipline. It’s not like wheat which may be sown in standing stubble with glad seeder or tremendous seeder. It takes not less than 5-6 rounds to clear the stubble and the excessive price of diesel means machines are out of attain for small, marginal, and semi-medium farmers. We’re left with no choice however to set our fields on hearth, despite the fact that it harms the soil and creates air air pollution.”

Peas are a 65-day crop, which is harvested by the second week of December. Farmers then sow one other crop with a late number of wheat or Rabi season crops.

Meeting elections and ongoing protests towards the three farm legal guidelines additionally imply that motion towards farmers who set their fields on hearth will likely be elusive. A senior administrative officer in Amritsar mentioned with elections due in a couple of months, they can’t take any stringent motion towards farmers.

Until October 21, atmosphere compensation to the tune of Rs 16.46 lakh was imposed, of which solely Rs 7,500 may very well be recovered. No FIRs are being registered this yr.

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