Tribune News Service
Patiala, September 29
The health authorities in Punjab are a worried lot. Over 600 cases of stubble burning in the last 10 days have adversely affected the air quality in the state.
Officials are concerned about its impact on Covid patients since the virus attacks lungs and leads to breathing problem.
Sources say if immediate steps are not taken, the smoke from Punjab would soon reach the neighbouring states and even Delhi. Information gathered by The Tribune reveals that the air quality in Punjab deteriorated suddenly from “good” or “satisfactory” in August to “moderate” in September. An analysis of data from air quality monitoring stations in six cities shows the pollution has doubled in less than a month, with three districts recording high pollution levels soon after the paddy harvest season began. The air quality index (AQI) in Jalandhar has now risen to 89 from 50 in August; in Patiala 103 from 41; in Mandi Gobindgarh 130 from 53; in Ludhiana 80 from 50; in Khanna 94 from 51; and in Amritsar 104 from 54.
The National Capital’s air quality was recorded at 170 on Tuesday, which falls in the “moderate” category.
A senior official says farmers are burning stubble since they only have about four weeks to prepare fields for sowing wheat. “With farmers waging a war against the contentious farm laws, any major action against them is likely to see stiff opposition,” he adds. Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary, BKU (Ugrahan), says: “We have been demanding compensation to manage stubble, but the government did not pay any heed. We have no other option but to burn the stubble to prepare fields for the next crop.”