10 farm fires reported every hour in Punjab

NEW DELHI: Punjab reported nearly 10 farm fire incidents every hour in the last one month which is, however, lower than those of last year but experts predicted that the number of incidents is likely to rise in the time of Diwali. "We have already published the data which shows that this year, there has been a decline in farm fire incidents by nearly 40 per cent in Punjab," said an official of Punjab Pollution Control Board.

However, the data claimed that the number of incidents may increase around Diwali. According to the data in Punjab, 4,202 cases of farm fire were reported during 22-26 October which shows that the number of incidents is increasing. Talking to the Millennium Post, Anumita Roy Chowdhury of the Center for Science and Environment said, "The stubble burning problem will pick up in the coming weeks. It is very early to predict the effects of this claim of fewer incidents of farm fires but in the time of Diwali we can reach a possible conclusion."

Meanwhile, the Delhi government came down heavily on the neighboring states alleging that no action has been taken against crop burning. "In case effective steps are not initiated to mitigate the menace of stubble burning by the respective state governments, the Delhi government may be left with no other option but to knock the doors of appropriate courts of law to seek their intervention and seek directions for time-bound effective actions by the Centre and concerned state governments," said Imran Hussain, environment minister of Delhi earlier in a statement.

He added that it has also been widely reported that farmers in the neighboring states are finding it more convenient and cheaper to pay fines for stubble burning instead of measures needed for avoiding such burning.

Media reports are also highlighting the NASA images confirming the start of agricultural stubble burning in the neighboring states of Delhi.

Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana contributed to 32 per cent of Delhi's overall pollution on Saturday, according to a report by the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).

The report, which analyses the impact of pollutant PM2.5, showed that the highest contribution since October 11 by stubble burning was seen on Friday at 36 per cent. On Saturday, about 32 per cent of pollution by PM2.5 was caused by stubble burning by farmers in Punjab and Haryana, it said.

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