In the eye of the storm, Punjab has recorded a 30% drop in stubble fires while Haryana has shown a 48% decline. Rajasthan and UP have reported a 67% and 33% fall in farm fires.
In total, from 77,967 farm fire counts recorded in the peak stubble burning season in 2021, between September 15 and November 22, the figure is down to 53,227 this year. The key reason is that the biggest contributor to farm fire-related air pollution in Delhi-NCR – Punjab – has shown a significant improvement in 2022 compared to the last few years, latest data indicates.
From 71,090 stubble fire events in 2021 between September 15 and November 22, the state has recorded 49,604 farm fires in 2022 during the same period. The figure was over 76,000 in 2020. This is a significant drop considering that the area under paddy cultivation had increased in Punjab this year
September estimates in central government reviews had shown the area under paddy cultivation in Punjab was up from 29.61 lakh hectares in 2021 to 31.44 lakh hectares in 2022. Consequently, overall straw generated in Punjab probably touched 19.99 million tonnes in 2022 vis a vis 18.74 million tonnes in 2021 – throwing a big challenge.
Haryana’s stubble fire incidents have seen a 48% decrease – from 6,733 in the Sept 15 to Nov 22 period in 2021, the figure is at 3,522 in 2022. UP’s NCR districts have reported a 33% decline in stubble fires – from 137 in 2021 to 91 in 2022.
The decrease in stubble fires is reflected in Delhi-NCR AQI. Average AQI between November 1 and 22 is at 324 this year compared to 377 in 2021, 341 in 2020 and 353 in 2019.