Farm fires at five-year high in Ludhiana district, air quality also worsens

Stubble burning cases beat 4-year record of 4,330 to touch 5,794 on Nov 20

Farm fires at five-year high in Ludhiana district, air quality also worsens

Nitin Jain

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 21

There is no let up in incidents of farm fires in Ludhiana district. With the crop residue burning cases touching a five-year high, the air quality in the state’s biggest and largest district in terms of area and population has also worsened, the official figures have revealed.

Also read: Reorient govt policies to end stubble burning

From only 389 till October 25 and 3,252 till November 8, the stubble burning cases beat the four-year record of 4,330 in 2019 to touch 5,794 on November 20, the data compiled by the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC) in Ludhiana has revealed.

What experts say

  • Wear a mask outdoors
  • Run an air purifier
  • Close your windows to avoid dirty outdoor air
  • Avoid outdoor exercise

With this, the air quality has worsened and the widespread pollution has engulfed the industrial capital of the state under dense blanket of smog, especially during evening and morning hours.

Recording 170 air quality index (AQI) on Saturday, Ludhiana’s air quality was “unhealthy” with PM 2.5 remaining main pollutant. However, this was better than 223 AQI (very unhealthy) recorded here on November 17, 204 AQI (very unhealthy) on November 18 and 196 AQI (unhealthy) on November 19.

On Saturday, Ludhiana remained state’s fourth most polluted city after Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda.

On the stubble burning front as well, Ludhiana remained the fourth worst-hit district with 5,794 farm fires till Saturday. While Sangrur topped the state with the maximum of 7,991 crop residue burning cases, Moga stood second with 6,491 and Ferozepur ranked third with 6,254 stubble burning incidents this season so far.

On Saturday, only 10 farm fires were spotted in Ludhiana district, which were, however, relatively less than the trend witnessed during the past few days. Muktsar topped the state with the maximum of 53 crop residue burning cases followed by Fazilka 50, Patiala 33, Bathinda 21, Ferozepur and Sangrur 18 each, Fatehgarh Sahib 16, Faridkot 10, Amritsar and Jalandhar five each, Malerkotla four, Tarn Taran three, Barnala and Kapurthala two each, while Gurdaspur, Moga and Pathankot recorded the lowest of one stubble burning incident each on Saturday.

The farm fires spotted this Kharif season have broken the record of previous four years when 4,330 such cases were reported during the entire season till November 30 in 2020, 2,532 in 2019, 2,481 in 2018 and 3,239 in 2017. However, the district had recorded maximum 7,697 farm fires in 2016. Whether this record will also break this year was yet to be seen as 10 more days were yet to go for this kharif season to conclude.

“We are forced to burn the crop residue as it was the most cost-effective and time saving mode,” reasoned Sulakhan Singh, a farmer of Baloke village.

Another progressive farmer Amar Singh of Dhandra village alleged that the government claims of providing machinery and incentives were only on the paper.

A leading pediatrician, Dr AP Singh, said: “PM2.5 concentration in Ludhiana air is currently 18.3 times above the WHO annual air quality guideline value.”

Officialspeak

We have been motivating farmers against stubble burning, besides enforcing laid-down norms to keep the air pollution under control. Though all 968 village panchayats in the district resolve not to let anyone burn crop residue in their respective limits, key district functionaries have been deployed to prevent field fires and take action against offenders. These included eight SDMs, seven tehsildars, 160 patwaris, nine DSPs, 142 cluster officers, 390 nodal officers and nine AEEs of PPCB. —Varinder Kumar Sharma, DC

Tribune Shorts


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