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Farm fires up 20% this year: pollution panel member

Nov 28, 2020 08:32 IST

New Delhi, PTI: Stubble burning incidents saw a steep rise of more than 20 per cent this year in comparison to the last two years, a factor which plays a significant role in spiking pollution levels in the Delhi-NCR, K J Ramesh, member of the newly formed commission for air quality management, said on Friday.

Ramesh said the 'Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas' has started discussions with stakeholders and he exuded confidence of coming up with an "acceptable and suitable solution" to combat air pollution by next year.

He said 2018 recorded 51,751 incidents of farm fires from mid-October to November end. This figure was the highest between 2010-2018, he said. The number dropped marginally to 50,738 a year later.

"This year, 73,000 cases of farm fires were reported until November 17," Ramesh, who was the former director general of the India Meteorology Department, said citing a study done by the Air Pollution Action Group.

Ramesh was speaking at a webinar on 'Clean Air Management for Public Welfare'. The webinar was organised by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, a research body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. IITM has launched several initiatives like SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) to track air pollution.

Farm fires or stubble burning post-harvest season during October-November in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan significantly contribute to the pollution levels in Delhi-NCR.

Last month, the Centre announced formation of the Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas.

The members include a chairperson, a representative of Environment secretary and five ex-officio members who are either chief secretaries or secretaries in charge of the environment departments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. It also has two full-time members who have been joint secretaries to the central government, three full-time independent technical members who have specific scientific knowledge regarding air pollution, one technical member from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), one technical member nominated by ISRO and three members of NGOs having experience in matters concerning combating of air pollution.

National