The number of paddy residue burning incidents in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were down by more than half this year, compared to last year, as per data available till October 11. Assessment of stubble fires between September 15 and October 11 shows that the cumulative number of incidents is down from 2,957 to 828 in Punjab. Haryana has reported 247 stubble fire incidents against 411 last year. Twelve cases were reported in UP, compared to 37 last year.
The air quality index in the NCR has deteriorated with change in weather and the trend of lesser cases will have to continue over the next few weeks to prevent AQI from worsening. Pollution control agencies of Delhi and neighbouring states and the Commission for Air Quality Management are monitoring stubble fires and fire intensity involved.
As on October 11, six ‘very high’ intensity fires, 11 of ‘high’ intensity fire and 31 of ‘moderate’ intensity were reported from Punjab. Haryana reported 3 incidents of very high intensity, 10 of high intensity and 19 each of moderate and low intensity stubble fires. Uttar Pradesh has so far reported two incidents of moderate stubble fires and one of low intensity.
Four hundred and forty-one fields were inspected in Punjab by October 10 and 154 cases of environmental compensation amounting to ₹4.5 lakh were imposed. Nine fields were inspected in Haryana and in six cases environmental compensation to the tune of ₹10,250 was imposed, data submitted by states showed. Nine burning events noted in UP were met with seven cases where fines of about ₹20,000 were imposed.
States have scaled up awareness and education drive to convince farmers to stay off burning paddy residue. Bio decomposers to naturally rid the fields of paddy stubble have been introduced in several areas across states adjoining NCR. United Phosphorus Ltd is sending in its bio decomposer application in around 2.07 lakh acres in Punjab and 2.9 lakh acres in Haryana. In Punjab, 4,518 acres and 51,834 acres in Haryana have been covered. UP is hoping to bring in 6 lakh acres under bio decomposer deployment soon. In the immediate term, weekend showers are expected to bring relief to NCR air quality.