Punjab’s Stubble Burning Continues To Choke Delhi

It was a case of the lesson not learned as Delhi continued to choke with poor air quality while Punjab failed to stop its farmers from stubble burning. Shockingly, almost 2500 stubble-burning cases were reported on Monday, and the cases have now crossed a whopping 32,000.

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By: Joymala Bagchi | NEW DELHI
Updated: 08 November, 2022 8:15 pm IST
pollution
Stubble burning in Punjab is a major concern for environmentalists  

It was a case of the lesson not learned as Delhi continued to choke with poor air quality while Punjab failed to stop its farmers from stubble burning.

Shockingly, almost 2500 stubble-burning cases were reported on Monday, and the cases have now crossed a whopping 32,000.

Environmental activists believe that a collective will is missing from stakeholders, including the government, which they allege, gives priority to vehicles over people’s health.

Social environmentalist Bhavreen Kandhari said, “There’s too much stress on GRAP (Graded Response Action Plan, which is a set of emergency measures taken to prevent further deterioration of air quality once it reaches a certain level in Delhi-NCR) instead of collective will and action throughout the year.”

“We cannot deny that we were breathing ‘poor’ air quality throughout the year. But the same commission invoking GRAP now has not intervened in endless construction projects or decisions to uproot more than three trees an hour or any policies to reduce private vehicles, be it increasing parking charges or introducing congestion and emission charges,” the environmental activists pointed out.

“CAQM (Commission for Air Quality Management) should be penalising and shutting down violators all year through. What stops them from exercising their power in this public health emergency?” questions Kandhari.

On November 2, Delhi recorded the highest AQI (Air Quality Index) level of 372 among its 35 stations. Doctors suggested avoiding exposure to these pollutants, as the rising air pollution is concerning because its effects could result in serious health consequences for the elderly, children, pregnant women and patients who have existing lung and heart ailments.

Environmentalist Manu Singh said that other than weather conditions, nothing is hopeful here. “The citizens have been forced to survive gas-chamber-like ecosystems with a rise in hazardous PM10 and PM2.5 particulates and choking smog,” he said.

Putting the focus on stubble burning, Singh said, “Stubble burning in the Northern states, particularly in Punjab, remains the main cause, alongside vehicular emissions and unregulated constructions.”

“It is shocking that the government has a plethora of eco-friendly alternatives at its disposal, like mulching and biofuel conversion, with regards to the stubble predicament. But the government is jolted out of its slumber only when media start highlighting the severity of the situation,” he added.

Unless adequate arrangements are made for the farmers by the government, this scenario is unlikely to change in the coming years too, Singh said.

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