Delhi choking: Root cause stems from deep crisis in agriculture


Hazy conditions over Delhi and NCR. Express Photo by Oinam Anand

North India faces an annual trauma as winter approaches — the air in the region having more than 200 million people becomes toxic. Fingers are pointed at the hand that feeds India, farmers in the granary of the country are rebuked asking them not to burn agriculture waste in their fields as their action fouls the air in mega cities like New Delhi, Lucknow and Allahabad.

There is no doubt that after the monsoon ends the vast paddy fields in India’s granary Haryana and Punjab turn into cremation grounds where the left-over paddy straw is burnt in vast swathes.

The fires are so many and so widespread that satellites flying hundreds of kilometres above the Earth record their presence. Giving ‘Udta Punjab’ a whole new dirty air dimension.

This is also the time when generally the westerly winds prevail and a giant plume of smoke covers north India. Satellite pictures depict the smoke plume with clarity and alarm bells starting ringing in the corridors of power in India’s capital.

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