Farm fire haze impedes visibility, breathing in Punjab : The Tribune India

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Farm fire haze impedes visibility, breathing in Punjab



Tribune News Service

Faridkot/Jalandhar/Ludhiana, October 28

A thick blanket of smoke emanating from paddy stubble burning enveloped various parts of the region today, making it difficult for motorists to drive due to reduced visibility and causing severe itching and burning in eyes. Those with respiratory issues faced a tough time too.

A thick layer of smoke engulfs Ludhiana. PHOTO: ASHWANI DHIMAN

In Faridkot, 50 farm fires were reported today despite 20 cluster officers and 89 nodal officers being deputed to check the menace across 171 villages in the district. “To discourage farmers, we have decided to cancel the panchayat land lease of those violating stubble burning orders,” said Faridkot Deputy Commissioner Vineet Kumar.

About 196 lakh MTs of stubble and straw worth crores of rupees is burnt in Punjab annually. “The burning of one tonne of straw releases 3 kg of particulate matter, 60 kg of carbon monoxide, 1,460 kg of carbon oxide, 199 kg of ash and 2 kg of sulfur oxide in the environment,” said Umindera Dutt, executive director, Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM), a voluntary organisation working in the field of sustainable and organic farming in the state.

Apart from heavy emission of greenhouse gases, Punjab was losing 38.5 lakh MTs of organic carbon, 59,000 MTs of nitrogen, 2,000 MTs of phosphorous and 34,000 MTs of potassium every year, he claimed. The KVM had started a movement, “Project Bhoomi”, in which door-to-door village-level meetings, ‘nukkad nataks’ and wall painting events were being organised in 200 villages of six districts of Malwa, including Faridkot, Bathinda, Sangrur, Patiala, Muktsar and Mansa, said Dutt.

Doctors have, meanwhile, reported a surge in patients complaining of chest pain, breathlessness and burning eyes over the past two days. “The smoke emanating from farm fires mixes with atmospheric gases like methane, nitrogen oxide and ammonia to create a deadly combination that results in highly polluted atmospheric smog in the region,” said a senior medical specialist in Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital in Faridkot. He said large-scale stubble burning released trace gases along with sub-micron-sized aerosols, which were known to aggravate lung and respiratory diseases. Hazy conditions with reduced visibility persisted in Doaba, including Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr, during the day and deteriorated towards evening. The AQI (air quality index) level in Jalandhar went up from 120 on Friday to 147 on Saturday amid incidents of farm fires in several parts. Similar conditions prevailed in Ludhiana district. Dr Amanpreet Kaur, medicine expert at the Ludhiana Civil Hospital, said they had witnessed an increase of 30-35 per cent in cases of respiratory issues in OPDs.

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#Environment #Faridkot #Farm Fires #Pollution #Stubble Burning


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