New Delhi: Expressing serious concern over Delhi’s air quality remaining in the ‘severe’ category for the fifth day in a row, forcing closure of primary schools, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences, Dr Jitendra Singh cautioned that air pollution related stubble burning cases have gone up by 120 percent in Rajasthan and 20 percent in Punjab respectively.
This, he said, implies that the governments in the two States are not doing enough to check stubble burning and are, on the contrary, increasingly contributing to the deteriorating air quality in Delhi NCR.
The Minister, who is also Incharge of India Meteorological Department (IMD), said that on the other hand, States like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have recorded progressive decline in the incidents of stubble fire burning.
He said, such inferences indicate that either the Congress government in Rajasthan and the AAP government in Punjab are not serious about air quality or they have not properly utilized the funds which were provided by the Narendra Modi government to purchase machines for stubble management.
Dr Jitendra Singh pointed out that since 2018-19, on the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Centre has provided Rs.3,138 crore to States for stubble management, out of which nearly 1,500 crore was provided to Punjab alone. He said, it is for the people to judge as to why, while many States have done an appreciable job in stubble management and are gradually moving in positive directions, the States of Punjab and Rajasthan continue to show further deterioration raising several questions regarding their intent, sincerity and prosperity.
Referring to findings by India Meteorological Department and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology under the aegis of Ministry of Earth Sciences, Dr Jitendra Singh said, there was 160 percent and 20 percent rise in cases of stubble burning in Rajasthan and Punjab respectively in October, 2022 compared to October, 2021.
Rajasthan recorded 318 farm fires in October 2022 compared to 124 last October, which is 160 percent rise, while Punjab recorded 16,004 fires in October 2022 compared to 13,269 farm fires in October last year, a rise of 20% fire counts.