Farm fires from Pakistan to add increased air pollution load for Delhi-NCR


New Delhi, Oct 10 (IANS) Satellite images by NASA have shown the increasing instances of farm fires vis vis stubble burning not just in Punjab and Haryana in the Indian side but also over large areas in Pakistan to the west of Punjab.

A NASA satellite image tweeted on Saturday morning by India Meteorology Department (IMD) scientist Ashim Mitra shows clusters of red dots (denoting farm fires) spread across Punjab and Haryana and also in Pakistan.

Despite several efforts by the Central and state governments to prevent farm fires, scores of farmers in Punjab and Haryana have started stubble burning ahead of the rabi season, air pollution from which is soon likely to travel towards Delhi-NCR.

The only saving grace for this week is that the number of fire counts is still very less and there are strong winds that dissipate this pollution faster. "The impact of these farm fires will not be felt much this week as the wind speed is strong and the number of fires is less," IMD scientist in Delhi Urban Meteorological Services, Dr V.K. Soni said.

The IMD issues a forecast for three days and seven days outlook. Accordingly, there would be strong winds for next two days and there is no chance of rain.

But whatever little impact that these fires can have is already visible in the Air Quality Index (AQI) by the Central Pollution Control Board in the national capital. The AQI at 7 p.m. on Sunday at Anand Vihar was already at 289, Wazirpur was at 230, and Jahangirpuri at 197. At Shadipur, it was 189, at Okhla, it was 172, at Punjabi Bagh it was 166, and even at Lodi Road it was 140.

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has been issuing a number of guidelines, the Delhi government has taken a number of initiatives to control dust and other pollutants and the Central government has said, it has provided harvester machines in large numbers for the farmers of Punjab and Haryana so that the stubble left from the kharif crop is not burnt.





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