Incidents of stubble burning fall in Punjab, Haryana; rise in U.P.

Collective efforts of all stakeholders coupled with in situ and ex situ stubble management and using different varieties of paddy are among the reasons for the decrease

Published - October 29, 2023 01:30 am IST - New Delhi

This year’s harvest season so far has seen a 59% fall in the number of stubble burning incidents in Punjab as compared to the same period last year. In Haryana it is down by 40%, according to official data.

In absolute numbers, Punjab and Haryana contribute to the highest number of stubble-burning incidents in the region.

This comes as a breather for Delhi and many other parts of north India, where air pollution spikes during the winter months mainly due to meteorological factors. Pollution caused by stubble-burning compounds the problem.

However, Uttar Pradesh has seen a 30.6% rise in stubble burning incidents during the ongoing harvest season.

These figures are based on data collected by Consortium for Research on Agroecosystem Monitoring and Modelling from Space (CREAMS) Lab, run by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), for the period between September 15 and October 28.

It may still be early for a full reading of the situation as the harvest season is considered to end only by November 30. 

Falling trend

For the complete harvest season, in both Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, the number of farm fires has been falling year-on-year consistently through 2020, 2021, and 2022, according to the data.

However, in Haryana there was a fall in 2020, but the State witnessed a 22.1% increase in 2021 which again fell by to 47.6% in 2022.

Vinay Kumar Sehgal, Principial Scientist at IARI, said that about 40% of harvesting has been completed in Punjab and 60% in Haryana and they are hoping the current trend will hold till the end of the harvesting season.

As for the rise in Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Sehgal, said, “In absolute terms, the rise in stubble-burning incidents in Uttar Pradesh this year is less than 200 and not that worrisome. We are hoping that by the end of the harvesting season it will come down compared to last year.”

Arvind Kumar Nautiyal, Member Secretary of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR and Adjoining Areas, told The Hindu that though the current harvest season is yet to be over, the fall in the number of stubble burning incidents in both Punjab and Haryana are expected to continue and the final figures are most likely to be significantly less than last year.

Mr. Nautiyal said that both in-situ and ex-situ stubble management and using different varieties of paddy are among the reasons for the decrease in stubble burning and it is the result of collective efforts of all stakeholders.

Politically sensitive

Stubble-burning is a politically sensitive issue and in the past, the AAP government in Delhi used to blame stubble burning in Punjab for the air pollution in Delhi during winters. But since the AAP came to power in Punjab, the BJP has been attacking the AAP government in Punjab for causing air pollution in Delhi.

Earlier this month, in a letter to Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, V.K. Saxena, said it was “extremely worrisome” that the number of farm fires registered in Punjab between September 15 and October 11 was 1,063, over 300 more than the count over the same period last year.

Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment, said that there is a falling trend in farm fires over the past few years.

But she said that governments should make sure that solutions such as machines used for stubble management reach all, including small and marginal farmers.

“Industrial use of stubble as fuel is picking up. If the government enables storage and transportation of stubble for further reuse as fuels or power generation, then industrial use of stubble will increase and create an economic incentive for farmers which will help reduce stubble burning,” she added.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.