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  • 23 July, 2020

  • 3 Min Read

Study: Punjab’s law plays ‘minimal role’ in spiking Delhi’s pollution

Study: Punjab’s law plays ‘minimal role’ in spiking Delhi’s pollution


  • A study argues that Delhi’s meteorology and the quantity of chaff burnt play a greater role in worsening air quality than the time chosen by farmers in Punjab to start crop burning.
  • Crop burning is a traditional practice in Punjab and Haryana of razing fields off rice chaff to prepare it for winter sowing.
  • It begins around October and peaks in November, coinciding with the withdrawal of southwest monsoon.


  • Subsidies and assured procurement of rice have led to a rise in the rice acreage in these States.
  • Coupled with increased farm mechanization, large quantities of rice stubble have increased over the years.
  • However, it has been pointed out that a change in Punjab’s water policy in 2009 that mandated farmers to delay sowing to late June (to discourage groundwater extraction), led to sowing being delayed by an average of 10 days compared to 2002-2008.
  • This, consequently, delayed harvesting and rice chaff burning.
  • As a result, the pollutants and the particulate matter from chaff, along with other sources of pollution in Delhi, which stuck in the lower atmosphere of the Indo-Gangetic plain, exacerbated winter pollution.
  • The study states that the role of legislation appears to be minimal, and indeed can sometimes decrease as well as increase air quality problems depending on the meteorological conditions of the time.


  • According to the study, ultimately, the halting of crop residue burning would greatly aid the newly established National Clean Air Programme [NCAP], which aims to reduce emissions from various sectors including agricultural residue burning.
  • The NCAP proposes to reduce pollution by 20-30% in annual PM concentration by 2024.

Source: TH

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