Owing to the rise in number of farm fires every year, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has decided to install 18 more manual monitoring stations at as many district headquarters and three Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) at Dera Baba Nanak, Derabassi and Naya Nangal, to check air quality. The CAAQMS will help the PPCB monitor real-time air quality. Any such station requires an investment of Rs 1 crore — Rs 80-lakh installation charges and Rs 20-lakh running expenditure.

“For measuring the AQI, the stations depend on the flow of air through their machines despite the fact that wind velocity is as low as 2 km per hour for most part of the day,” say officials.

The 18 manual monitoring stations will be installed in Faridkot, Fazilka, Moga, Mansa, Tarn Taran, Barnala, Sangrur, Malerkotla, Fatehgarh Sahib, SAS Nagar, Hoshiarpur, Muktsar Sahib, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Ferozepur, SBS Nagar and Ropar.

“These new stations will help us study the impact of stubble burning, vehicular emissions and industrial pollution throughout the year and frame policies accordingly,” said PPCB member secretary Karunesh Garg.

Even as air quality in the state deteriorates after paddy harvesting season, the PPCB has no mechanism to record the AQI. The state depends on the air monitoring stations in six cities, whereas stubble-burning occurs in villages.

As per the PPCB, Punjab AQI is “satisfactory”, (0-50 good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 severe), following the recent spell of rain.

‘Delay in harvesting behind more farm fires’

The paddy harvesting was delayed due to inclement weather in the past week and this will narrow the winter crop sowing window, which can lead to more stubble burning cases as farmers will get less time to clear fields, say experts


Source: 26 October, 2021, The Tribune