Between September 15 and November 23, Punjab and Haryana have witnessed a reduction of fire counts by 30% and 48%, respectively, this year as against last year.
Punjab has recorded 49,604 farm fires between September 15 and November 23 in 2022 as compared to 71,181 in 2021 and 82,693 in 2020. Data from the stubble burning season of 2021 shows that the daily fire counts crossed 4,000 on six days, including three days when per day counts were higher than 5,000. However, the highest single day count was 3,916 on November 11.
Similarly, from September 15 to November 23, Haryana recorded 3,549 paddy residue burning events in 2022; 6,792 in 2021; and 4,016 in 2020. The cumulative fire counts in Uttar Pradesh during the same period stood at 2,100 in 2022; 3,376 in 2021 and 3,629 in 2020.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said, “We certainly need to assess the ground level situation to understand what has helped in reducing the fire counts this year and take that forward. There is also a need of better assessment and monitoring of fire counts on days when there is a cloud cover. If we have bent the curve this time, efforts should be intensified to achieve near elimination of the problem by next year.”
Though the fire counts have been lower this year, the impact of stubble burning in Delhi’s air was less than last year, shows the data of System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the forecasting body under the Union ministry of earth sciences. The contribution of stubble burning in Delhi’s PM2.5 depends on wind direction and speed.
The highest single-day share of stubble burning in Delhi’s PM2.5 was just 34% this year. However, SAFAR data shows that the highest per day share of farm fires in Delhi’s PM2.5 was 58% in 2018, 44% in 2019, 42% in 2020, and 48% in 2021.
Gufran Beig, founder project director at SAFAR, said, “The fire counts were lower than last year. However, as surface wind speed in Delhi was higher on some days in November than previous years, it helped in dispersion of pollutants and impact of stubble burning was not as high as past years.”