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Paddy Stubble Burning: Significant Reduction in Incidents in Punjab, Haryana Marks Progress Towards Sustainable Agriculture

Despite the significant reduction in paddy stubble burning, the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi-NCR did not reflect a corresponding improvement during November 2023.

Shivam Dwivedi
Paddy Stubble Burning: Significant Reduction in Incidents in Punjab and Haryana Marks Progress Towards Sustainable Agriculture (Photo Source: Pexels)
Paddy Stubble Burning: Significant Reduction in Incidents in Punjab and Haryana Marks Progress Towards Sustainable Agriculture (Photo Source: Pexels)

The recently concluded paddy harvesting season in Punjab and Haryana has marked a substantial decrease in paddy stubble burning incidents, reflecting the success of concerted efforts and strategic measures implemented by various stakeholders. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) played a pivotal role by developing a standard protocol for recording paddy straw burning events, conducted annually from September 15 to November 30.

Over the past three years, both Punjab and Haryana have witnessed a remarkable decline in paddy stubble burning cases. In 2023, the efforts towards managing paddy straw for the season have shown positive results, thanks to district-specific action plans, intensified monitoring at various government levels, and increased utilization of machinery for in-situ/ex-situ management.

The fire counts for paddy stubble burning in Punjab tell a compelling story. In 2020, there were 83,002 fire counts, which reduced to 71,304 in 2021, 49,922 in 2022, and further decreased to 36,663 in 2023. Similarly, Haryana reported 4,202 fire counts in 2020, with a continuous decline to 2,303 in 2023. These figures indicate a collective reduction of 27% in Punjab and 37% in Haryana in 2023 compared to the previous year.

District-wise analysis in Punjab reveals commendable progress, with districts like Muktsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, and Rupnagar recording more than a 50% reduction in paddy farm fires during 2023. Some districts, including Bathinda, Fazilka, Ludhiana, Tarn Taran, and Patiala, showed an improvement of 27% to 50% in their fire counts. However, concerns arise in districts like Amritsar, SAS Nagar, and Pathankot, where an increase in fire counts was observed in 2023 compared to 2022.

In Haryana, districts such as Kaithal, Karnal, and Panipat achieved more than a 50% reduction in fire counts during 2023. Kurukshetra, Sirsa, and Yamuna Nagar reported a reduction between 37% to 50%, while improvement ranging up to 37% was noted in Ambala, Fatehabad, Jind, Hisar, and Sonipat.

Conversely, districts like Rohtak, Bhiwani, Faridabad, Jhajjar, and Palwal experienced higher paddy farm fire counts in 2023 compared to 2022. Unfavorable meteorological conditions, including low wind speed and direction, minimal rainfall, and near-calm wind conditions, impeded pollutant dispersion, resulting in a higher AQI compared to previous years.

Looking ahead, with continued concerted actions and strengthened action plans, it is anticipated that paddy stubble burning events will see a further decline in the coming years. This, in turn, is expected to contribute to an overall improvement in air quality during the paddy harvest season in Delhi-NCR.

Also Read: MFOI 2023 National, State Coordinators' List Released

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