Stubble burning to abate as wheat sowing up in Punjab

Amritsar: A farmer burns stubble after the harvest of paddy, at an agricultural field on the outskirts of Amritsar, on Oct 23, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

While an air pollution emergency is playing out in Delhi NCR, stubble burning in Punjab is likely to abate by the end of the month as wheat sowing has already covered 60 per cent of the area.

Agriculture experts say that the Rs 100 per quintal incentive on stubble burning will mean that next year, things are likely to be better and the subsequent pollution would be less.

Sucha Singh Gill, Professor, Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh said that wheat sowing has already covered 60 per cent of Punjab and stubble burning is likely to come down significantly in the next 5-10 days. Experts say the major chunk of the stubble burning for the current season may have got over.

Experts said that the Rs 100 per quintal incentive scheme given to farmers for not burning the paddy stubble is likely to impact significantly next year in Punjab and Haryana and incidents of biomass burning would be much less leading to lower air pollution.

Punjab and Haryana governments are rolling out the scheme for farmers and have set aside funds.

Gill said stubble burning would also come down as new technology has been developed which converts the biomass into biogas for which factories are being installed in Punjab. It is learnt that factories have come up at Fazilka, Nawanshahr and are in the process of being set up in Sangrur.

He said that the paddy stubble can be used for bio-gas and also for bio-manure and this in turn will also boost the rural economy. Punjab produces 25 million tonnes of paddy straw and about 100 such factories are required to harness it, Gill said.

Stubble burning has been seen as a key reason for the Delhi AQI to come under the emergency zone with an overall air quality index (AQI) of 482.

Safar India noted that the effective stubble fire counts estimated as per satellites are only 69 on Wednesday under dense cloudy conditions when satellite capability to detect is questionable. Considering the PM2.5 deficit with and without fire in the SAFAR-analysis, fire emissions appear to be higher and fresh biomass contribution is around 13%.

A forecast today by Safar India noted that due to stagnation and very low mixing height, flushing is almost insignificant and considering the life time of PM2.5, sustainable cumulative impact of stubble intrusion on Thursday is estimated to be more than 30%.

The approaching fresh Western Disturbance exists as an induced cyclonic circulation over southwest Rajasthan and started to affect northwest India, scattered rainfall is expecting over Punjab which is likely to lead to very low fire count during next two days the forecast said.

Moreover, stubble transport level wind direction is not so favourable for intrusion. Hence, stubble contribution is estimated to reduce significantly by Friday to around 5%.