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How Stubble Burning In Punjab & Haryana Increases Pollution In Delhi NCR

Jan 07, 2019


Stubble Burning

A lot has been said and written about how farming activities in Delhi’s neighbouring states are responsible for the smog that encompasses the national capital region during the winter months. However, we are seldom shown the whole picture behind the environmental and public health fiasco. In this post, we will be looking at a number of things that are causing the Delhi smog and how stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana acts as a catalyst for the air pollutants.

As winters arrive, the festive season begins in India. Dussehra and Diwali are two of the most awaited Indian festivals of the year. As celebrations begin, human activity increases, there are more vehicles on the road, people are shopping, visiting each other and bursting crackers to mark the auspicious occasions. The period also coincides with the wedding season since the cool winter weather is considered the best time to organise a hectic affair like an Indian wedding. This is followed by Christmas, New Year and Sankranti celebrations in December and January. So, the winter season in northern India is basically packed full with events that increase environmental air pollution, and when you add stubble burning to the mix, the situation worsens.

What is stubble burning?

Farmers world over practice stubble burning. It is the deliberate setting of fire to the straw stubble that is left standing after a crop harvest. Analysts estimate that farmers in Punjab and Haryana collectively burn 35 million tons of crop waste every year. Stubble burning allows farmers to clear the fields for new cultivation, but it also takes a heavy toll on the environment and public health.

Effects of stubble burning on Delhi NCR

As the national capital region is next to the states where stubble burning is a common practice, it becomes susceptible to the smoke that is released from it. When this thick smoke mixes with the already polluted metropolitan air, the number of PM10 and PM2.5 pollutants increase significantly and we witness the phenomenon called smog.

Concluding thoughts

Stubble burning is cheaper in comparison to mechanical alternatives for clearing the fields for farmers. Hence, measures at an administrative level are needed to make alternative techniques viable and move farmers towards more environment friendly techniques for clearing crop waste. In the meanwhile, the public health issue also needs addressing. Apart from curbing activities that cause air pollution, use of smart home technologies like home air purifiers and office air purifiers needs to be encouraged. Air purifiers with HEPA filters can remove toxins in the ambient air and offer better indoor environments for homeowners living in metro cities like Delhi.

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