Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Pollution
Context One of the largest studies of its kind in India, correlating the effect of air pollution on health, was conducted in six villages of Patiala, Punjab in two phases.
Key findings of the study
- Pollution from stubble burning significantly reduced lung function and was particularly harmful to women in rural Punjab
- The concentration of PM2.5 was found to increase more than twice between the two phases, when crop burning peaks.
- PM2.5 is the category of unburnt carbon particles considered most harmful to respiratory health.
- The level of increase is around 10-15 times the prescribed air quality standards prescribed by the WHO though the permissible standards set by India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are higher.
- During the crop residue burning period, a two- to three-fold increase was noted in most of the respiratory symptoms, including wheezing, breathlessness on exertion, cough, skin rashes, itchiness of eyes, across all age groups (10-60 years).
What is Stubble Burning?
- Stubble burning is the act of setting fire to crop residue to remove them from the field to sow the next crop
- It is a traditional practice in Punjab and Haryana to clean off the rice chaff to prepare the fields for winter sowing
- It begins around October and peaks in November, coinciding with the withdrawal of southwest monsoon.
- On December 10, 2015, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned crop residue burning in the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab