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How can Punjab’s pollution reach Delhi? State Minister on Delhi’s air pollution

According to Punjab Remote Sensing Centre data, the cumulative farm fire cases between 15 September and 31 October touched 16,004. Punjab during the same period in 2021 recorded 13,124 stubble burning incidents, and that number was at 29,615 in 2020.

Despite Delhi’s air quality turning ‘hazardous’ on Tuesday, Punjab’s agriculture minister Kuldeep Dhaliwal on Tuesday said his state cannot be blamed for the state of affairs in the National Capital.

His remarks came a day after Haryana blamed neighbouring Punjab for poor air quality in the National Capital.

“We created awareness among farmers and also took legal action including imposing penalties and registering FIRs. Incidents of stubble burning have reduced significantly in Haryana as compared to Punjab,” Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Monday.

Dhaliwal on Tuesday also claimed the state reported fewer incidents of farm fires compared to the same period over the past two years.

Punjab on Monday reported 2,131 farm fires, the highest so far this season, with Sangrur alone accounting for 330.

What did Dhaliwal say?

Dhaliwal said  “Punjab stubble is not the cause of pollution in Delhi. Rohtak, Panipat, Sonepat are the ones contributing to Delhi’s pollution. How can Punjab’s pollution reach Delhi? How can Amritsar’s, and not Panipat’s smoke, reach Delhi.”

“Haryana is responsible for Delhi-NCR’s AQI. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hiding facts and number of fire incidents in Haryana,” Dhaliwal claimed.

Dhaliwal, in Ludhiana to attend a seminar on women empowerment, also claimed the efforts of the Aam Aadmi Party government in curbing the cases of stubble burning in Punjab were a “success”.

“I will present data showing a decline in the cases of farm fires in the state,” he added, without further elucidating.

“The recent increase in the cases of stubble burning in Sangrur and other parts of the Malwa region is due to late harvesting of the PUSA-44 variety,” he added.

Dhaliwal also blamed the Centre.

“The central government backtracked from contributing its share to compensate the paddy farmers as proposed by the Punjab government. Farmers are using the equipment provided by the Punjab government to manage the stubble without burning it on their farms and things will get back to normal in two days,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

What does the data say?

According to Punjab Remote Sensing Centre data, the cumulative farm fire cases between 15 September and 31 October touched 16,004.

Despite a massive awareness exercise by the state government to dissuade farmers from setting crop residue on fire, the growers continue to burn paddy straw to clear their fields for sowing the next crop — wheat and vegetables.

Stubble burning has been decriminalised under the Air Quality Commission Act last year.

Of the total 2,131 stubble burning incidents on Monday, Sangrur witnessed the highest number of cases at 330, followed by 250 in Ferozepur, 202 in Patiala, 178 in Bathinda, 174 in Tarn Taran, 126 in Barnala, 123 in Mansa and 112 in Jalandhar.

Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana is one of the reasons behind the alarming spike in air pollution levels in the National Capital in October and November.

As the window for sowing rabi crop wheat after paddy harvest is very short, farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear the crop residue.

Punjab generates around 180 lakh tonnes of paddy straw annually.

The state recorded 71,304 farm fires in 2021, 76,590 in 2020, 55,210 in 2019, 50,590 in 2018, 45,384 in 2017 and 81,042 in 2016.



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