Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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Punjab

Posted at: Oct 16, 2019, 6:46 AM; last updated: Oct 16, 2019, 12:49 PM (IST)

Amritsar almost as polluted as Delhi

Burning issue

  • The state pollution control board has “no mechanism to record AQI and get real-time data in villages”
  • Majority of villages witness “poor to very poor” quality of air in winters when the wind speed is slow
  • The state depends on air-monitoring stations set up in six cities, whereas stubble-burning generally takes place in villages

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 15

Even as Punjab claims not to be solely responsible for Delhi’s poor air quality, the situation in its Amritsar and Mandi Gobindgarh districts is almost equivalent to that in Delhi. The air quality in these districts ranges from “moderate” to “poor” with more deterioration likely in coming days.

The state has recorded 45 per cent increase in stubble-burning cases till October 14 and the air quality in most of its districts has deteriorated by three to four times over the past 14 days.

Edit: Air quality concerns

Data comparison by The Tribune shows the average air quality index (AQI) in the state was 58 on October 1, which worsened to 159 by October 14.  Amritsar recorded the worst AQI of 225 on October 14, as against 54 on October 1. Delhi recorded AQI of 252 on Monday.

With majority of the Malwa belt yet to go full throttle on stubble burning, the situation is expected to deteriorate further over the next 15 days.

On October 14, the AQI in Mandi Gobindgarh stood at 192 as against 27 on October 1, followed by Jalandhar 187 (53 on October 1), Ludhiana 122 (82 on October 1), Patiala 117 (42 on October 1) and Khanna 114 (48 on October 1). “This clearly shows the impact of farm fires on Punjab air quality.

With reduction in wind velocity, the impact is likely to worsen in the coming days with many areas witnessing smog-like conditions,” claim PPCB insiders. “Villages will be the worst sufferers,” they added.

The period between October 15 and November 15 is considered critical as most farmers harvest their paddy crop during this period.

Interestingly, the Malwa belt, comprising Patiala, Sangrur and Mansa districts, is yet witness rise in stubble-burning cases as crop harvesting is still underway there. Clearly, the state is in for some really tough days ahead, say Agriculture Department officials. 

According to the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), the state had recorded 435 incidents of stubble burning till October 11 last year. This year, the figure has shot up to 630. Amritsar alone reported 295 incidents of farm fires during that period. Tarn Taran and Patiala recorded 126 and 57 cases, respectively. 

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