Farm fire incidents in Haryana have seen a substantial increase this year compared to 2020. The affidavit filed by the Centre in the Supreme Court today (15 November) also consists of minutes of the 7th meeting held yesterday (14 November), of the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and adjoining areas which revealed these details.
So far 5,400 incidents of stubble burning have been reported in Haryana in 2021 till 13 November compared to 3,635 in the corresponding period last year which translates to 48 per cent increase. This when harvest season has been delayed this year due to late monsoon rains lashing the state drenching the crops and farmers had to wait longer to cut the crops.
Situation in Punjab is no better.
“Post Diwali, there has been a spurt in the number of fire incidents owing to paddy stubble burning, particularly in the state of Punjab where about 42,285 of incidences have been reported in last 10 days alone, out of a cumulative fire count of 62,863 till 13 November, 2021 during this season,” (sic) read the minutes.
The incident figures are heavily skewed towards last 10 days and perhaps explain the sudden deterioration in the air quality in Delhi and NCR at the start of this month, just before Diwali. As per the commission as well, stubble burning seems to a big culprit.
“Efforts need to be intensified to control the instances of stubble burning to minimum, as currently the paddy stubble burning has been contributing 35-40% of the total population load in Delhi-NCR,” the minutes say.
The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), a think tank’s analysis of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa)’s NRT VIIRS satellite data also corroborates the above data cited by the commission.
So far, the fire incidents recorded between 1 October and 10 November from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have reached a record high of 64,299, third highest count after the figures recorded in 2020 (71,976 fires) and 2016 (93,0976 fires). Given that harvest season has been late this year, it’s quite likely that record of overall fires for the year 2020 will be broken.
CEEW’s data also confirms worsening figures for Haryana and slide after some improvement in recent past. In the period from 1 October to 10 November, Haryana recorded 7,197 farm fires in 2021, 4,371 fires in 2020, 5,254 fires in 2019 and 6,252 in 2018, 8,310 in 2017 and 10,070 fires in 2016. This year’s performance of the state has been the worst since 2017.
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