Air quality depletes as UP records spike in farm fires, farmers fined

Amid depleting air quality, Uttar Pradesh reported a record number of farm fires on Sunday and Monday, according to satellite data observed over the state.

According to the satellite data of NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS), which is also used by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), more than 734 incidents of farm fires were recorded on Sunday and Monday across the state. The reported incidents are at least 30 percent more than the average farm fires recorded this month.

The UPPCB uses this data to monitor stubble burning incidents and alert respective district administrations. “The farm fire incidents were reported mostly from west UP districts where paddy plantation is more. Farm fires were also reported from some east and central UP districts,” said VK Singh, senior environmental engineer at UPPCB. He added that the incidents of stubble burning peaked because most farmers tried to clear their farms for the next crop by Dussehra.

As per the system, most farm fires were observed in Saharanpur, Shahjahanpur, Pilibhit, Etawah, Bijnor, Baghpat, Hapur, Firozabad, Kanpur, Unnao, Badaun, Bareilly, Kannauj. Some farm fires were also observed in Rae Bareli, Ayodhya, Gorakhpur, Siddharthnagar, Pratapgarh, Amethi and Sultanpur districts.

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“Farm fires are recorded when farmers burn farm waste like stubble in their fields. Because the cultivation of paddy is more common in west UP and Terai belt, the satellite records more fire from this region,” said agricultural expert Ranbir Singh.

Emissions by stubble burning are a major cause of air pollution. The increase in farm fires is reflected directly in the Air Quality Index (AQI) of the region. The daily AQI data released by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded ‘very poor’ between the range of 301 to 400 over west UP on Sunday and Monday.

The UPPCB is working closely with the respective district administrations to curb farm fires. A total fine of Rs 5 lakh has been slapped on over 100 farmers who were found burning farm waste this month. Around 30 farmers were fined on Sunday and Monday.

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