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Stubble Burning: NGT Pulls Up Punjab Government on Poor Air Quality

Stubble burning in Punjab is still taking place. Despite the alarming level of pollution in Delhi, farmers in Bathinda, Mansa, and other districts have been seen burning crop residue.

Aysha Anam
Stubble Burning in India. (Photo Courtesy: Punjab Police/Twitter)
Stubble Burning in India. (Photo Courtesy: Punjab Police/Twitter)

National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday, November 20 pulled the Punjab Government for failing to control the number of farm fire cases. However, the Punjab Government has responded by saying, "30 per cent reduction noticed in farm fire cases".

So far the Punjab Police has registered over 932 FIRs against farmers for burning crop residue since November 8. A fine of Rs 1.67 crore has been imposed in 7,405 cases. According to the Special Director General of Police Arpit Shukla, red entries were made in the revenue records of 340 farmers for stubble burning.

Delhi's AQI Level

The disastrous toxic air pollution is due to the stubble burning happening in Punjab and Haryana. Delhi's air quality index stood at 290 at 7 am. The AQI recorded at 4 pm every day was 319 on Saturday, 405 on Friday, and 419 on Thursday in the month of November. Haryana and Punjab's air quality has also deteriorated.

Effects of Stubble Burning

Stubble burning, which involves setting fire to the crop residue left after harvesting, primarily impacts the environment in several negative ways:

1. Air Pollution: One of the most immediate and significant impacts of stubble burning is air pollution. It releases a large amount of particulate matter, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other harmful gases into the atmosphere. These pollutants contribute to poor air quality, leading to respiratory issues, aggravated asthma, and other health problems in humans and animals.

2. Global Warming and Climate Change: The emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane during stubble burning contributes to global warming. It exacerbates climate change by adding to the overall atmospheric concentration of these gases, leading to temperature rise and unpredictable weather patterns.

3. Soil Health: Stubble burning also affects soil health. The ash produced from burning residue contains potassium, phosphorus, and other nutrients that could have been beneficial for the soil if incorporated through proper methods. Burning removes these nutrients and decreases soil fertility, affecting future crop yields.

4. Loss of Biodiversity: The smoke and pollutants released during stubble burning can harm local flora and fauna. It affects the biodiversity of the region and can have long-term consequences on ecosystems and wildlife.

5. Water Quality: Ash and other residues from stubble burning can be carried by wind and deposited in water bodies, affecting water quality and aquatic life. The chemicals and pollutants in the ash can disrupt the balance of nutrients and potentially harm aquatic ecosystems.

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