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See: What stubble burning in North India looked like from the sky this week

Instances of stubble burning in North India — one of the leading factors behind the air pollution and smog that New Delhi and the larger National Capital Region experience every winter — were lower in the last three days compared to the same period last year, satellite imagery provided by Nasa shows.

The red dots you see in the images below all suggest places where stubble burning may have taken place at any given time.

This image shows how North India looked like from the sky yesterday, October 16, with respect to possible instances of stubble burning.

Now compare the satellite images that you just saw with these three photos. These images are from October 16, October 15 and October 14 last year, in that order.

What is stubble burning?

  • A post-harvest practice used to clear fields of crop stubble.
  • The practice has been outlawed but due to lax implementation of the ban, stubble burning still takes place in North India
  • Farmers say in defence that they do not have any alternatives
  • State governments in agrarian states of Punjab and Haryana say that they do not get enough financial aid from the Centre to compensate the farmers

The satellite images clearly show that the instances of stubble burning in North India were fewer between October 14 and October 16, when compared to the same three-day period in 2017.

Will this mean that Delhi and NCR will breathe easier this year? No.


  • Air pollution in Delhi and NCR is usually so bad that a marginal improvement in air quality will not make that big a difference
  • Air pollution and smog in Delhi and NCR are dependent on several factors and not just stubble burning. These include emissions from motor vehicles and industries and construction activity
  • The wind pattern over North India during winters makes New Delhi and NCR vulnerable to air pollution.


The images above continue a trend seen since the beginning of this month. has been tracking stubble burning instances in North India with the help of satellite imagery.

Stubble burning in North India has largely declined compared to last year.


Stubble burning

Even the government has acknowledged this. Union environment and science minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said earlier this week that satellite and other data collected by central ministries show a decline in the instances of stubble burning in North India.

Punjab has recorded a 75 per cent reduction in stubble burning while Haryana has recorded a 40 per cent drop, Harsh Vardhan said while announcing the launch of a new warning system that will forewarn any dip in air quality over Delhi and NCR.

What is the system?

  • The system will give warnings three days in advance about deteriorating air quality
  • The system has been developed by government scientists in collaboration with experts from the United States and Finland
  • The warnings will help the government to undertake preventive measures over and above what it is already doing


Meanwhile, an emergency plan to tackle air pollution has already gone into effect in New Delhi and NCR.

The plan — developed by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority — prescribes measures of varying degrees that must be taken based on the air quality over the national capital at any given time.

Currently, the air over Delhi and NCR has been graded as poor. And so:

  • Electricity generators have been banned (not in the NCR due to the power situation there)
  • Mechanised sweeping of roads is being carried out at regular intervals
  • Garbage burning has been banned
  • Pollution control measures have kicked in at brick kilns
  • Extra traffic police officers have been deployed to ensure smooth movement of traffic

If the air Delhi’s air quality dips further, additional measures may kick in. These include:

  • A three or four-fold hike in parking fees
  • Increased frequency of Metro and bus services
  • Increase frequency of sprinkling of water on road
  • Ban on entry of trucks (except those carrying essential goods) into Delhi-NCR
  • Ban on all construction activity in Delhi-NCR



News credit : Indiatoday

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