Delhi’s air quality in ‘very poor’ category; Stubble burning contributes 14% to polluted air

With a massive 14 per cent increase in incidents of stubble burning in the city’s deteriorating air over the past two days, the air quality in Delhi slipped to the very poor category on Saturday, officials said.

According to SAFAR, the forecasting body of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Delhi’s AQI slipped to the very poor category with PM 2.5 as the main pollutant.

Due to favorable meteorological conditions, there is infiltration of air masses associated with stubble burning. With 1,572 effective fire counts as per the SAFAR harmonized methodology, which includes data from two ISRO satellites, the contribution of stubble burning to Delhi’s air has suddenly risen to 14 per cent.

SAFAR said the number of fires is increasing gradually and the wind direction is favorable and is coming from north-west direction at the transport level (900 mb) for infiltration.

However, it said there is a possibility of rain and the air quality improving on Sunday but it will remain in the ‘poor’ category.

According to data from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), 1,948 farm fires were recorded in the last two days—October 15 and 16—as compared to 1,795 in the entire month till October 14.

In the last two days, 1,089 such incidents were reported in Punjab, 539 in Haryana, 270 in Uttar Pradesh, 10 in Rajasthan and 40 in Madhya Pradesh. The data shows that the incidents of fires recorded within two days are significantly higher than the incidents in the last 10 days till October 14.

Between October 6-14, a total of 1,008 fire incidents were reported in Punjab and 463 in Haryana during the same period. According to the Decision Support System (DSS) developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology-Pune (IITM), the ventilation index and wind speed in the national capital will be below average over the next two days, which is unfavorable for dispersal. pollutant

While the air quality is likely to improve on October 17 and 18 due to rain activities which are conducive to removal of pollutants, IITM said, the air quality is likely to remain largely in the moderate category. Stubble burning in neighboring states contributes significantly to air pollution in Delhi.

Active fire incidents due to rice residue burning were monitored using satellite remote sensing, following the new standard protocol for assessment of crop residue burning fire incidents using satellite data. Punjab had recorded 1.02 lakh incidents of stubble burning in 2016. That number dropped to 67,079 in 2017; 59,684 in 2018 and 50,738 in 2019 from 1 October to 30 November. According to IARI, there were 79,093 such incidents in the state last year.

In 2016, 15,686 farms caught fire in Haryana; 13,085 in 2017; 9,225 in 2018; 6,364 in 2019 and 5,678 in 2020. Punjab and Haryana attract attention during the paddy harvesting season in October and November.

Farmers set their fields on fire to quickly remove crop residues prior to the cultivation of wheat and potatoes. This is one of the main reasons for the alarming increase in pollution in Delhi-NCR. .

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