EPCA chief asks Punjab, Haryana to act against stubble burning

Chief Secretaries told to set up control room to tackle issue

September 23, 2020 12:19 am | Updated 12:19 am IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority on Tuesday wrote to the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana stating that early burning of crop residue was taking place and urged them to address the issue “urgently”. The letter specified “42 fire counts” in Punjab alone on Monday.

EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal, in letters send to the two bureaucrats, wrote: “It has been brought to EPCA’s notice that early burning of crop residue is taking place in Punjab. According to a SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research under the Central government) estimate, based on harmonising the INSAT-3, 3D and NASA satellite, the fire counts were around 42 on September 21, 2020. The fire counts were around 20 on September 20 and nil on September 15.”

‘Matter of urgency’

Mr. Lal said the government has lost time because of COVID-19, but since the winter season is fast approaching, the issue has to be tackled with “urgency”. “We would request you to set up a control room in which directions can be issued and action taken, both for ensuring that the machineries are within the reach of the farmers as well as ensuring enforcement of the non-compliance that is reported from the field,” wrote Mr. Lal.

The letter stated that the effect of stubble burning will be less in Delhi for the next three days because of the wind direction. According to SAFAR, the predominant wind direction is north-easterly and it doesn’t support the transport and accumulation of the effect of stubble burning to Delhi. The AQI of Delhi was in the ‘moderate’ category on Tuesday.

Last year, about 9.8 million tonnes of the total estimated crop residue of 20 million tonnes were burnt in Punjab, according to official figures. Similarly, in Haryana, of the total 7 million tonnes, 1.24 million tonnes of stubble were burnt.

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