Jalandhar, November 9
A day after the district administration patted its back on achieving 60 per cent dip in stubble burning compared to last year, the district AQI has seen a massive rise today, adversely affecting people’s health.
A lot depends on weather conditions. With only five and seven farm fires reported in last two days, the worsening of AQI can be attributed to other factors too. Jaspreet Singh, DC
The air quality index (AQI) of the city reached ‘very poor’ category with the index at 383. At 8pm, the AQI dropped to 334, still in ‘very poor’ category. Coupled with farm fires and an ominous smog, this translates to a severe health emergency for the people of the region.
This is the poorest the city’s air has been this season. Even on Diwali Day, the AQI in Jalandhar was 225. There were days when maximum AQI was recorded at 325 or 316 in evening hours.
With 1,134 stubble burning cases were reported in the district until today, the district also recently crossed the 1,000 mark in stubble burning.
While farm fires are termed the chief culprit for the fiasco, the PPCB offcials however pointed out the lack of adequate baling machines, as the key reson farmers were unable to manage paddy stubble.
While the city has remained enveloped in a thick smog for more than a week, despite a marginal dip in the number of farm fires in past three-four days, there is no respite from persistent pollution - which is taking a heavy toll on those suffering from respiratory problems. Nearly 50 per cent rise has already been registered in cases of respiratory illness and asthma. In pockets, residents also complain of distinct burning sensation caused by air and repeated cough and irritation in throats.
There are six categories of AQI, namely ‘Good’ (0-50), ‘Satisfactory’ (50-100), ‘Moderately polluted’ (100-200), ‘Poor’ (200-300), ‘Very Poor’ (300-400), and ‘Severe’ (400-500).
As many as 1,134 farm fires have been reported in Jalandhar to date. A total of 119 farm fires were reported on November 2, the highest this season. Before this, 102 farm fires had been reported on October 31; 101 on Diwali and 99 on October 29.
Officials said since farmers are now being paid for paddy stubble bales, there would be a drop in farm fires. The lack of adequate machines (superseeders and rotavators) for binding stubble into bales is the key reason why farmers are forced to burn paddy stubble.
However, since November 3 onwards there has been a decline in farm fires. Stubble burning reported on November 3 were 59, on November 4 (23), November 5 (33), November 6 (5), November 7 (41), November 8 (7) and November 9 (11).
As many as 86 people have been challaned for farm fires and fine worth Rs 2,15,000 had been imposed on violators.
Senior Environmental Engineer, Sandeep Bahl, PPCB, Jalandhar, said, “With Rs 150 to 200 now being paid for paddy bales, no farmers would like to burn stubble. However, they are forced to so due to inadequate machines. There is a dearth of rotavators and superseeders. Hence, they resort to residue burning. The weather conditions are also hugely responsible as dust, vehicular and industrial pollution aggravate the situtation. With rains expected, the conditions are expected to be better soon.”
DC Jaspreet Singh said, “A lot depends on weather conditions. With only five and seven farm fires reported in last two days, the worsening of AQI can be attributed to other factors too. In the past few days stubble burning saw a decrease. We also plan get a survey done to study the cumulative effects of vehicular and stubble pollution.”
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