Thick smog engulfs state as air quality worsens - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Sunday, November 3, 2019

Thick smog engulfs state as air quality worsens

Thick smog engulfs state as air quality worsens

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 2

As farm fires continued unabated, a blanket of haze engulfed Punjab with the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaching ‘very poor’ mark at 316. Mandi Gobindgarh with AQI of 396 and Khanna with 384 were the worst-affected cities in the state.

On Saturday, because of the haze, visibility was reduced substantially in most parts of the state. People complained of breathlessness and irritation in eyes. The total number of stubble-burning incidents between September 23 and November 1 stood at 22,454. In the year 2017 and 2018, the numbers were 28,065 and 20,999, respectively.

The air quality in Mandi Gobindgarh and Khanna was almost similar to Delhi (399) on Saturday. As per the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Ludhiana recorded AQI of 305, Amritsar 265, Patiala 263, Jalandhar 283 and Chandigarh 279.

Sources said the state government is yet to take a decision to shut schools, colleges and sports tournaments due to the steep rise in pollution. “With air quality worsening with each passing day, people are falling sick,” they said.

“We are monitoring the situation and the data is being shared with the relevant departments. Factors that remained unfavourable towards dispersion of pollutants included low surface wind speed, dust and low humidity,” said PPCB spokesman Charanjit Singh, adding that the farmers need to stop polluting the air.

“No one can drive on the roads, children cannot play and it is high time that Punjab declares health emergency and shuts schools till things normalise. People are paying for subsidy to farmers, their power comes from our taxes and even water is free for them. Yet they are resorting to farm fires. The government should not bother only about farmers but for all citizens and act tough,” said a senior official. Over 23,000 cases of stubble-burning have been witnessed in Punjab till date and due to thick smog and cloud cover, the remote sensing centre has been unable to capture the fire incidents over the state.

“The decrease in wind speed has started to affect Punjab’s air quality by drastically decreasing ventilation coefficients, thereby affecting dispersion,” explained a PPCB official, adding that with more farm fires, the air quality was likely to suffer further.

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