Air qual­ity in Pun­jab back to ‘poor’ after lock­down eased

Stub­ble burn­ing, open­ing of in­dus­tries main rea­sons be­hind AQI in­dex shoot­ing up to un­healthy lev­els

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTSPOTLIGH­T - Navra­jdeep Singh navra­jdeep.singh@hin­dus­tan­

PATIALA: Air qual­ity lev­els which had im­proved con­sid­er­ably over the last two months of lock­down and cur­few to pre­vent the spread of Covid 19 have de­te­ri­o­rated after eas­ing of re­stric­tions by May 17 in Pun­jab. Stub­ble burn­ing post wheat har­vest­ing sea­son is also adding to the prob­lem.

The air qual­ity in­dex (AQI) to mon­i­tor air pol­lu­tion in­di­cated un­healthy lev­els of 200 to­wards the end of May after record­ing a low of 36 in Pun­jab dur­ing the lock­down.

On May 22, the in­dus­trial town Mandi Gobindgarh recorded an AQI of 242, which was in the very un­healthy bracket ac­cord­ing to data from the Na­tional AQI of the Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board (CPCC). On May 23, the in­dus­trial hub of Lud­hi­ana recorded AQI lev­els of 170. A month ear­lier, on March 23, it was 36.

After har­vest­ing sea­son, in­creas­ing cases of stub­ble burn­ing have added to the prob­lem with 12,575 such cases recorded as against 10,357 cases last year.

Pol­lu­tion lev­els were in­creas­ing for a num­ber of rea­sons, said Pun­jab Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board (PPCB) chair­man Satwinder Singh Marwaha. “The re­sump­tion of in­dus­trial op­er­a­tions and ve­hic­u­lar pol­lu­tion after re­lax­ations in the lock­down cou­pled with farm fire in­ci­dences have grad­u­ally led to de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of air qual­ity in Pun­jab.”

In­creas­ing dust par­ti­cles in the air due to use of ma­chines dur­ing wheat har­vest­ing also added to poor air qual­ity, he said.

The AQI level from day one of lock­down on March 22 to April 14 be­fore har­vest­ing was recorded at less than 50 in ma­jor parts, in­clud­ing in­dus­trial towns.

“With the start of the har­vest­ing sea­son after April 15, AQI lev­els started es­ca­lat­ing to over 70 in the ‘sat­is­fac­tory’ bracket. Now, it has reached ‘mod­er­ate’ lev­els at 150 and even crossed 200 in the past few days,” Marwaha added.

PPCB mem­ber sec­re­tary Krunesh Garg said 12,575 cases of stub­ble burn­ing had been re­ported up to May 23.

“The board has taken se­ri­ous note of these fire in­ci­dents and im­posed en­vi­ron­men­tal com­pen­sa­tion of around Rs 40 lakh,” he said.

Till date, the PPCB has regis­tered FIRs against 322 farm­ers un­der sec­tion 188 (dis­obe­di­ence to or­der duly pro­mul­gated by pub­lic ser­vant) of IPC.

Con­tend­ing, how­ever, that the farm­ers could not be held re­spon­si­ble for pol­lu­tion all data pointed to air qual­ity de­te­ri­o­rat­ing after in­crease in ve­hic­u­lar pol­lu­tion and in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties, Jag­mo­han Singh, state gen­eral sec­re­tary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda), said, “Only scat­tered in­ci­dents of farm fire were re­ported as farm­ers lis­tened to ap­peals of farmer unions not to burn stub­ble,” he said.

With the start of the har­vest­ing after April 15, AQI lev­els started es­ca­lat­ing to over 70 in the ‘sat­is­fac­tory’ bracket. Now, it has reached ‘mod­er­ate’ lev­els and even crossed 200 in few days. SATWINDER SINGH MARWAHA, PPCB chair­man


On Satur­day, the in­dus­trial hub of Lud­hi­ana recorded AQI lev­els of 170 against 36 a month ear­lier.

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