Mask up Delhi: Farmers in Punjab setting farm land on fire

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, October 19: Farmers in Punjab are setting their farmland on fire again, sending shivers down the spine of the people in the Delhi National Capital Region, as the air quality index dived on Wednesday to the 300 level, while the officials told the Centre that the situation would be worse in the coming days.

Ironically, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is ruling both Delhi and Punjab. Yet, the AAP government in Punjab appears miserably failing in persuading farmers not burn the crop residues on their farmland. With air essentially trapped in the NCR region in October-November, the fear of smog has revived, which has forced the Centre to caution people against the air quality hazards in the coming days.

The Sub-Committee for operationalization of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) of the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR & Adjoining Areas (CAQM) held an emergency meeting on Wednesday. “The meeting was held in view of Delhi’s AQI forecast for October 22 reaching the projected levels of Stage II of GRAP, based on the dynamic model and weather/ meteorological forecast provided by IMD / IITM. As per the forecast provided by Air Quality Early Warning System, Delhi’s AQI is projected to cross 301 on October 22,” said the government in an official statement.

The sub-committee comprehensively reviewed the air quality scenario in the region and noted that the air quality parameters are likely to dip to the “Very POOR” category. “In an effort to ameliorate the AQI of Delhi-NCR, the sub-committee has taken the call to invoke all actions as envisaged under Stage II of the GRAP – ‘Very POOR’ Air Quality (DELHI AQI ranging between 301-400), three days in advance to the projected levels with immediate effect in the entire NCR by all the agencies concerned. This is in addition to the restrictive actions mentioned in Stage I of GRAP. Various agencies responsible for implementing measures under GRAP and Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) of NCR and DPCC have been advised to ensure strict implementation of actions of Stage II under GRAP during this period,” added the government.

An interministerial was also held during which the officials gave an account of the crop residue burning during which it was stated that Haryana is significantly better than that Punjab. “Nine out of 22 districts in Punjab and four out of 22 district in Haryana are major contributors of stubble burning in these states. So, these 13 districts need to be focused upon more.  Sangrur, Moga, Tarn Taran and Fatehabad are among them. Till 15th October, the trend for fire events was less as compared to last year but now it has started growing rapidly, especially in Punjab. Early harvesting is the reason for high fire counts in Amritsar and Tarn Taran,” said the government on the outcome of the interministerial meeting.

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