1. Smog in Delhi due to Diwali pollution? NASA satellite images suggest crop burning in Punjab, Haryana adding to city’s smog

Smog in Delhi due to Diwali pollution? NASA satellite images suggest crop burning in Punjab, Haryana adding to city’s smog

Delhi smog post-Diwali: The rise in the particulate matter has been attributed to fireworks on Diwali night, but these NASA images suggest that burning of crop stubble is considerably impacting the pollution levels.

By: | Published: November 4, 2016 11:11 AM
Farmers in neighboring Punjab and Haryana have been setting fire to paddy stubble in their fields after cultivating the crop as part of the slash and burn. (Source: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC) Farmers in neighboring Punjab and Haryana have been setting fire to paddy stubble in their fields after cultivating the crop as part of the slash and burn. (Source: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC)

Delhi-NCR is struggling to recover from the pollution which enveloped the region post-Diwali celebrations. The smog in the last two days has further made lives of the NCR residents difficult. The air quality is deteriorating in the city. The rise in the particulate matter has been attributed to fireworks on Diwali night, but these NASA images suggest that burning of crop stubble is considerably impacting the pollution levels. Farmers in neighboring Punjab and Haryana have been setting fire to paddy stubble in their fields after cultivating the crop as part of the slash and burn.

A NASA forecast shows high levels of ‘fires and thermal anomalies’ in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. As per an NYT report, farmers are burning around 32 million tons of leftover straw. The National Green Tribunal had last year told the government to stop farmers from burning their crops. Towards the end of October, farmers begin burning the process of burning paddy stubble which leads to plumes of smoke blackening the skies.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC.

Another reason for the poor visibility conditions is because of a drop in wind movement and the increase in humidity, which makes the pollutants remain close to the ground. The practice of farmers harvesting the crops by hand is on the decline as most use combines to cut crop, which renders the stubble useless. To get rid of the stubble farmers burn the fields to prepare it for sowing the next crop.

Similar reports of worsening air quality have been reported in Lahore, Pakistan. A report in Dawn newspaper stated: “Lahore on Wednesday remained covered in thick and gray smog, heavily loaded with pollutants which affected the air quality.”

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