Stubble burning incidents in Punjab has increased by nearly four times in 2020 as compared to last year. According to Anil Sood, Head of ACM division, Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, Ludhiana, they have recorded 2,873 incidents so far between 21st September and 12th October. Last year, during the same period, 755 cases were recorded. In 2018, 510 cases were recorded in Punjab.
In last 2 years, harvesting was delayed due to rainfall. Since weather is dry this year, more stubble burning cases are being reported. It’s difficult to draw an overall comparison with preceding years till harvesting is underway: Anil Sood, Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, Ludhiana https://t.co/mQG8mxY2pf— ANI (@ANI) October 13, 2020
Stubble burning and pollution in Delhi
Every year, the national capital faces severe consequences of the stubble burning, especially during the winters. The air pollution during this time increases by several folds. Air pollution has been record-high in Delhi in the last few years with the worst air quality. The residents of northern India, where stubble burning causes a spike in air pollution, face breathing problems, and other health issues.
Several schemes, crores of funds but no result
On 1st October, Union environment minister Prakash Jabadkar met environment ministers of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. They reviewed the situation and steps taken by the state governments in the last few years to control air pollution. The center has allocated Rs.1,700 crore fund for the states. Livemint quoted an environment minister saying, “Currently, 80% subsidy to cooperatives and 50% subsidy to individuals on machineries for stubble is being provided to curb pollution caused due to stubble burning.”
Javadekar said that the state action plans are in place, and they were ready to be implemented. “Delhi government has been directed to take more action on the 13 hotspots in Delhi so as to reduce the air pollution in the capital. 50 teams of CPCB will be deployed in Delhi NCR region to take appropriate action this year,” he added.
Coronavirus crisis could get worse due to pollution
Doctors and environmental experts believe that stubble burning and the subsequent deterioration of air quality could aggravate the COVID-19 situation in north India and pose a major challenge for the government to cope with the effects of worsening pollution on the coronavirus crisis. Coronavirus and the exacerbating air pollution could prove to be a double whammy for COVID-19 patients, who already face breathing issues due to the contagion.
Every year, Delhi and the surrounding places witness a steady deterioration of air quality during the months of winter because of a host of reasons such as unfavourable weather, stubble burning and local sources of pollution. However, this time around, the situation is more serious, considering the country is in the throes of an unprecedented coronavirus crisis, a pandemic known for causing serious respiratory complications.