Delhi is facing the worst smog in 17 years, causing a state of health emergency due to worsening air pollution. While many have blamed the bursting of crackers on the festival of Diwali for the situation, but images released NASA suggests that burning of crop straw in the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana as adding the most fuel to the fire.
A NASA forecast shows high levels of ‘fires and thermal anomalies’ in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, with NYT paper reporting that farmers are burning around 32 million tons of leftover straw, leading to plumes of smoke blackening the skies.
At PM2.5 and PM10 (respiratory diseases causing particulates), the national capital’s air quality has been categorized as “severe”, which violates the safe limits by over 15 times. The prescribed standard of PM2.5 is 60 micrograms per cubic metre.
The practise of straw burning is common among farmers, in the absence of a viable alternative to clear the land for fresh sowing season. Although the govt has offered to bear half of the cost of the equipment, which cost a whopping Rs 1.27 lakh, farmers, however, say the amount would still be a big financial burden on them.