After the Union government turned down their request for funds, the governments of Punjab and Delhi are working on finalising a monetary incentive for farmers who do not burn their paddy residue after harvesting, according to the officials.
The incentive, which was initially set at 2,500 per acre, is likely to be reduced to 1,000 per acre as a result of the Centre’s decision. The scheme will be critical in efforts to discourage farmers from burning crop residue after harvest, which is a convenient way for them to clear fields but produces clouds of smoke that cause the world’s worst air pollution crisis in much of North India.
“We had sought the support of 1,125 crores from the Union government in the total outlay of 1,875 crores while 375 crores each was to be contributed by Punjab and Delhi governments. Now, we have received a communication from the ministry of agriculture that our proposal has been rejected,” said Punjab chief secretary VK Janjua.
The chief secretary added that the states are still negotiating the incentive, which could now be reduced to $1,000 per acre. The Punjab government has set aside 200 crores in its budget this year to combat stubble burning.
On Friday, the Union Agriculture Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Officials from the Delhi government did not reveal how they planned to encourage farmers not to burn the residue.
However, officials who requested anonymity said they have already begun planning to spray a bio-decomposer solution free of charge across Basmati and non-Basmati fields in Delhi. The solution, developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in Pusa, naturally decomposes paddy straw in 15-30 days, eliminating the need for it to be burned.
Delhi’s environment and development minister, Gopal Rai, chaired a review meeting on Thursday to assess preparations for the event, and the agriculture department was asked to get farmers in Delhi to fill out a form as soon as possible to identify fields that need to be sprayed.
Stubble burning and finding a solution to it is one of the 15 key focus areas identified by the Delhi government for its winter air pollution action plan.
However, convincing farmers in Punjab to abandon the practice appears to be the most pressing issue.
During the Kharif season, nearly three million hectares of paddy are planted in Punjab. Every year, the state produces approximately 18.5 million tonnes of paddy crop residue. 49% of this is managed in situ (mixing the residue into the soil) and ex-situ (used as fuel), with the remainder set ablaze.
Most farmers burn the residue because it is a quick and inexpensive way to clear the fields for the sowing of the rabi season wheat crop, which has a very short window.
As a result, Delhi and its surrounding areas have dangerously high levels of air pollution.
“The agriculture ministry has rejected our proposal citing that 275 crores have already been sanctioned for supplying subsidised machines for in-situ management of paddy straw,” said an official in Punjab’s agriculture department who was present at the meetings with central officials. Farmers will receive 32,100 more subsidised machines thanks to the funds allocated.
At least 90,000 machines have been supplied to farmers in Punjab over the last four seasons, with the Centre releasing 269 crores, 273 crores, 272 crores, and 331 crores in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively.
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As pollution levels rise, Delhi’s air quality in moderate category
As pollution levels continued to rise, Delhi’s air quality was rated as moderate on Thursday. This is partly because of dry, northwesterly winds that are moving into the area and are predicted to raise the temperature to 36 degrees Celsius by the weekend.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the Air Quality Index (AQI) was 149 at 7am on Thursday compared to 140 at 4pm a day earlier.
On September 19, when the AQI reached 182 (moderate), Delhi experienced haze for the first time this month. From September 22 to 25, a four-day rainstorm controlled the haze. On September 25, when the AQI dropped to 52, Delhi saw its cleanest air day of the year (satisfactory). On Monday, the AQI was 100, and the smog once more enveloped the city (satisfactory). On Tuesday and Wednesday, the moderate category of the AQI was at 108 and 140, respectively.
Union earth sciences ministry’s Air Quality Early Warning System said the AQI will remain in the moderate category until Saturday despite a gradual rise in air pollution levels.
“The air quality is likely to deteriorate but remain in the ‘moderate’ category on September 29 and 30 [Friday and Saturday]. The air quality is likely to deteriorate further and reach the upper end of the ‘moderate’ category on October 1 [Sunday],” said EWS in its forecast.
Thursday is forecast to have a maximum temperature of 35 degrees Celsius and a low temperature of 24 degrees Celsius. On Wednesday, temperatures ranged from a low of 23.6 degrees to a high of 34.2 degrees Celsius.
Due to an increase in moisture, rain is anticipated by October 4.
“We will see a gradual rise in temperatures over the next few days as northwesterly winds are raising the mercury,” said India Meteorological Department scientist R K Jenamani. He added Delhi may have overcast weather during this period. “…but the next spell of rain is only expected around October 4 or 5 when moisture content increases once again.”
Intense rains in Delhi NCR to continue says IMD
Delhi NCR is witnessing intense rainfall for the last two days and it has brought a noticeable change in the temperature. The rains will continue in the coming days as per the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), India.
The continuous showers have waterlogged many areas causing traffic jams in Delhi, Gurugram, and Noida regions.
The minimum temperature in Delhi, on Friday is supposed to be 23 degrees and the maximum temperature is predicted to be 28 degrees.
Concerning the waterlogged roads and intense traffic jams, the Gurugram administration issued an advisory asking private and corporate offices to work from home, while schools and colleges remained closed on Friday to avoid the hassle.
There has been a dip of seven degrees in the temperature in the NCR regions, making people feel the chill, especially during the night.
Even the air quality has improved so much in the city, according to the data from the Central Pollution Control Board. The AQI on Friday morning stood at 50, which is considered ‘very good.’
Massive landslide occurs in Achham district of Nepal; 22 killed, 10 injured
Due to a landslide in Nepal’s Achham district, about 450 km (281 miles) west of the capital city of Kathmandu, many homes were destroyed and many people have fallen victim to it as some of them are injured and some have lost their lives. Officials said on Sunday that the rescuers in Nepal battled against the torrential rains and pulled bodies from the wreckage of homes buried because of the landslide, and it has been reported that 22 people have lost their lives while 10 have been injured so far.
According to the official data, at least 70 people have been killed and 13 have gone missing across the country in flash floods and landslides this year alone.
The police, military and volunteers are still looking for the missing people in Achham district. Authorities have recovered the body of a fisherman who was swept away due to the landlide and reached the Kailali district due to the overflowing Geta river.
Yagya Raj Joshi, an official in Kailali, said about 1,500 people displaced because of the floods were sheltered in public buildings.
Local media broadcasted images of swathes of farms inundated by flood waters, a destroyed suspension bridge and villagers wading through chest-deep water.
Light to moderate rain and gusty winds are expected to hit the national capital on Thursday
Delhi has seen a marginal dip in the temperature on Thursday morning as the national capital has witnessed light to moderate rain and gusty winds with a speed of 30–40 km/h. This even resulted in an improvement in air quality, which was classified as satisfactory.
The maximum temperature is expected to be around 30°C while the minimum is to be 25°C, which when compared to Wednesday was 33.6°C and 26.4°C respectively.
RK Jenamani, India Meteorological Department (IMD) scientist, said a depression that formed over Odisha and moved towards northwest India sent easterly winds with moisture towards Delhi-NCR and led to a three-day spell of rain. He said, “As this depression has moved closer, we are seeing the effect of these strong easterly winds, which has led to an increase in the speed of surface winds locally. The moisture is also leading to cloudy skies, which has led to a drop in the mercury. “
The intensity of rain will reduce from Friday evening, with no rain expected from September 17 to 20.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the Air Quality Index (AQI) was at 63 on Thursday morning at 7 a.m.
The monitoring agency, System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, said on Wednesday that the satisfactory level of AQI is expected to last till Saturday. They said, “For the next three days, peak wind speed is likely to be around 14–29 km/h, causing moderate dispersion and AQI is likely to be within the range of’satisfactory’ due to expected light/trace rain spells.”
IMD predicts heavy rainfall in isolated locations
In its most recent weather update, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall in isolated locations across Uttarakhand, east Rajasthan, West Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, central Maharashtra, Konkan, and Goa on Wednesday.
The weather service also forecasted isolated heavy rains, thunderstorms, and lightning in Gangetic West Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday, Jharkhand on September 18, and Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim on September 15 and 16.
East Madhya Pradesh, ghat areas of central Maharashtra, and Konkan, as well as Goa, may see rain over the next five days.
On September 14 and 15, the Met Department warned of isolated very heavy rainfall over West Madhya Pradesh, ghat areas of Madhya Maharashtra and Gujarat, and Konkan and Goa from September 14 to 16. According to the IMD, isolated extremely heavy rainfall is expected over ghat areas of central Maharashtra on September 15.
UN Secretary pays a visit to the flood areas of Pakistan
On the final day of a two-day trip to raise awareness of the disaster, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited several flood-ravaged areas in Pakistan.
Floods caused by heavy monsoon rains and glacier melt in the northern mountains have killed over 1,391 people and destroyed homes, roads, railway tracks, bridges, livestock, and crops.
Huge areas of the country have been inundated, and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. According to the government, nearly 33 million people’s lives have been disrupted. The damage in Pakistan is estimated to be $30 billion, and both the government and Guterres have blamed the flooding on climate change.
The UN Secretary-General arrived in Sindh province on Saturday before flying over some of the worst-affected areas on his way to Balochistan, another badly affected province.
“It is difficult not to feel deeply moved to hear such detailed descriptions of tragedy,” Guterres said after landing in Sindh, according to a video released by the office of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
“Pakistan needs massive financial support. This is not a matter of generosity, it is a matter of justice.”
Guterres was seated next to Sharif in a video released by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, looking out the window of an aircraft at flood-damaged areas. “Unimaginable,” Guterres said as he looked around at the devastation.
In July and August, Pakistan received 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, nearly 190% more than the 30-year average. The southern province of Sindh has received 466% more rain than usual.
Guterres stated on Saturday that the world needs to understand the impact of climate change on low-income countries.
“Humanity has been waging war on nature and nature strikes back,” he said.
“Nature strikes back in Sindh, but it was not Sindh that has made the emissions of greenhouse gases that have accelerated climate change so dramatically,” Guterres said. “There is a very unfair situation relative to the level of destruction.”
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