Stubble burning has increased in Punjab and Haryana this year with more than 3,000 farm fire cases recorded as of Wednesday since counting began late September.
This is higher than the nearly 2,600 stubble burning instances recorded last year in both the states in the same time frame, as per data released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
In Punjab, a total of 1,631 farm fires were recorded between September 23 and October 17, up from 1,198 recorded last year. In Haryana, the figure increased to 1,571 cases between September 25 and October 17 from 1,346 last year. Despite the increase in numbers, “contribution of stubble burning to PM2.5 levels in Delhi is only 7% till now,” a CPCB official said.
He added that the agency relies on assessment done by the central government’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) for data on pollution caused by stubble burning. On Friday, SAFAR predicted that the share of pollution from farm fires would increase to 17% in Delhi Saturday. The top crop residue burning districts this year so far, as per CPCB data, are Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Patiala in Punjab; and Karnal, Kaithal and Kurukshetra in Haryana.
The CPCB Friday said it has deployed 46 teams to identify pollution sources in Delhi-NCR and has found construction and demolition activities, garbage dumping and road dust to be the main contributors.
The pollution control body has so far lodged 689 complaints for various violations. As many as 16 hotspots in Delhi and three
in NCR have been identified where pollution is comparatively higher, a CPCB official said.
“Area-specific action plans have been prepared by various agencies coordinating with one another to control polluting activities,” the official added.
CPCB member secretary Prashant Gargava said a task force led by the pollution control body held a meeting Friday and recommended various pollution-controlling measures for Delhi-NCR.
These include appealing to IT companies to encourage employees to work from home, asking public and private companies to encourage car pooling and use of public transport, and advising schools to make arrangements for picking up and dropping off students.