By Joymala Bagchi
New Delhi [India], October 12 (ANI): Amidst increasing levels of air pollution in the national capital region, close to 700 cases of stubble burning were reported from Punjab and Haryana between September 21-29, according to sources in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFF & CC).
According to the data, between the nine-day period, Active Fire Events (AFE) registered in Punjab and Haryana this year were 579 and 120, against the much lower 208 and 27, respectively, incidents reported from the two states last year in the same period.
Despite increased monitoring of pollution control agencies and stern actions with penalties, the number of AFE in the two States, especially Punjab, has spiralled massively.
On September 21, 2020, Punjab registered 14 AFEs whereas on the same date in 2019 it had just five such incidents.
Lesser cases were reported this year on September 22 and 23, compared to the last year. However, fire events hugely escalated since September 25 with 159 AFE reported this year compared to a measly 31 last year.
Meanwhile, on September 26, 88 fire events were reported against just five in 2019, further on September 27 had 74 AFE compared to zero fires in the last year.
September 28 had six AFE in 2019, whereas 2020 shows 61 in Punjab. Again on September 29, the data shows zero reported fire events against 59 this year.
Although not AFE were reported in Haryana till September 24 in 2019 and 2020, however, on September 25 the registered number is 15 in 2020 compared to eight last year.
Between September 26 to September 29 the number of fire events in 2020 depicts an escalation in fire events with six, 34, 26, 39 reported.
Major districts that reported stubble burning in both Punjab and Haryana in 2019 are Sangrur (6,666) Bathinda (5,803), Firozpur (5,023), Patiala (3,987) and Kaithal (1,251), Fatehabad (1,335) and Karnal (1,123), informed source from the ministry.
Total AFE in Punjab and Haryana in 2018 were 51,751 and 8,235 respectively while it escalated to 52,942 in Punjab in 2019. However, the numbers sharply reduced in Haryana in 2019 with just 6,652 registered fire events.
With AQI already touching the bar of poor category special stringent attention is being given to curb air pollution following the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Various pollution control agencies, Supreme Court mandated pollution watchdog, government agencies are taking monitored steps to restrict and lower air pollution which otherwise might aggravate following winter.
Supreme Court mandated body Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) in its latest letter to Chief Secretaries of four States on October 7 stated that due to prevailing COVID-19 situation measures are to be initiated which if neglected can witness "huge human health cost" the letter specified. (ANI)