The smoke from stubble burning in fields being cleared for the wheat crop arrived punctually in Delhi a few days before Diwali, as it has every year since the 1980s. Regular satellite surveillance by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute had detected 65,408 burning events in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh between September 30 and November 15.
Over half of these – 39,618 – were set ablaze in just two weeks, from November 1 to 15. Till November 15, more than 80% of the burning had happened in Punjab, where the harvest begins late October. Since Punjab lies directly in the path of the northwest winds that blow throughout winter over northern India, we have entered the high season of smog in the capital.
Fines for stubble-burning have existed for several years but have had no effect on the farmers. So last year, the Centre attempted persuasion and allocated Rs 1,151.8 crore to the Punjab and Haryana governments. Read More