PATIALA: Delhi may be blaming the stubble fires in Punjab and Haryana for the poor ambient air quality index (AQI) in national capital region, but data procured at the eight continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations (CAAQMS) in Punjab has a different story to tell.
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There has been a 25% rise in incidents of stubble fires in Punjab as compared to last year, but AQI being recorded at CAAQMS in the state reveals that the air quality across the state, barring Jalandhar, is still in moderate zone. The data puts Jalandhar in poor air quality bracket.
The AQI in Amritsar was recorded at 116 ug/m3, while in Bathinda it was 103 ug/m3. In Jalandhar, AQI entered poor category at 218 ug/m3, in Khanna it was 142 ug/m3, in Ludhiana it was 189 ug/m3, in Mandi Gobindgarh it was 151 ug/m3, in Patiala it was 115 ug/m3 and in Ropar, 89 ug/m3.
According to Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) member secretary Karunesh Garg, the rise in pollution levels in Jalandhar could be attributed to some local phenomenon, as only 141 cases of farm fires have been recorded in the entire district since September 23. Out of these, 48 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours. Two neighbouring districts of Amritsar and Tarn Taran recorded 597 and 736 cases, respectively, since September 23, but the AQI remains in the moderate zone.
Garg pointed out that to blame Punjab for the poor to very poor AQI in Delhi, the state must first fall in polluted category and the eight CAAQMS should reflect that data. If the AQI in Punjab is fine, then how can the state be held responsible for pollution in NCR, he quipped. Pollution being generated in the state must first pass through Punjab before reaching Delhi, he added, and suggested that Delhi should “look within” to look for reasons for its poor air quality.
According to the official figures, till Monday the eyes in the sky caught 3,466 cases of farm fires, which are 25% more as compared to last year when a total of 2,575 cases were recorded by Punjab remoting sensing Centre in Ludhiana. The Ludhiana centre had been using satellite imagery to track geospatial data of fire incidents. Other than Amritsar and Tarn Taran, Patiala is also leading the fire charts with a total of 439 cases reported so far. Besides, 311 cases have been reported from Ferozepur and 239 from Gurdaspur.
Janjua holds meet to review steps for tackling menace
Punjab principal secretary (labour) V K Janjua held a special meeting with officers here to review the working of various departments to prevent burning of crop residue. He directed the officers to take strict action against stubble burning besides creating awareness about the availability of equipment subsidy. Nodal officers informed Janjua about the action taken in the cases.
Ferozepur deputy commissioner Chander Gaind and additional deputy commissioner Ravinderpal Singh Sandhu also attended the meeting. Gaind said officers of various departments have been deputed to prevent stubble burning and take immediate action on getting information of crop fires from the satellite. He also brought to the notice that awareness camps are being held from time to time.