Almost a month and a half after farm fires caused a drop in Punjab’s air quality, it was back to 'moderate' from the 'poor to very poor' category following a light drizzle in some parts of the state and a good wind speed.
With this change in the weather condition, Air Quality Index (AQI) of the State has dropped to 156. The period between October 15 and November 15 is considered critical as most farmers harvest paddy at this time. With around 50,000 farm fires this season, Punjab had recorded a 45-per cent increase in stubble burning cases till October 14 and the air quality in most of its districts further deteriorated three to four times over the past 14 days. In the first week of November, Punjab faced smog-like conditions.
However, on Saturday, barring Amritsar which fared poorly with AQI 245, all districts had a 'moderate' air quality. Overall, the state’s AQI was 156 on Saturday, down from 351 recorded on November 3. Ludhiana’s AQI was 159, Mandi Gobindgarh’s 141, Patiala’s 116, Jalandhar’s 156, Khanna’s 116 and Chandigarh’s 116.
While 0-50 microgram per cubicmetre (µg/m³) is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 is considered severe. The average air quality in the first six months of this year was recorded between moderate to poor and sometimes reaching the 'very poor' category due to dust storms and other factors.
'We are hopeful that the situation will improve now on as a majority of the state’s paddy crop has been harvested and farm fires are almost over,' said an expert.