(Photo by ARCHANA THIYAGARAJAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Punjab recorded the highest number of stubble burning incidents this year, registering an increase of 46.5 per cent as compared to last year, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.

However, Haryana saw farm fire incidents reducing by 28.6 per cent this year.

Every year at the onset of winters, crop residue burning begins in Punjab and Haryana leading to heavy air pollution in Delhi.

The pollution watchdog said the total count of active fire events reported in Punjab between 21 September and 22 November is 76,537 while in 2019 it was 52,225.

“Stubble burning has increased by 46.5 per cent (or 24312 number of incidents) during 2020 in comparison to 2019,” CPCB said. “All the districts of Punjab except SBS Nagar have shown an upward trend in their active fire events contribution.”

The average contribution of external biomass burning to PM 2.5 has increased from 10 per cent in 2019 to 15.63 per cent in 2020. The maximum contribution of external biomass burning to PM 2.5 at 42 per cent was observed on November 5, 2020.

In Haryana, total count of fires reported in 2020 is 4,675 while in 2019 it was 6551.

“With the support of central government schemes initiated to stop stubble burning, about 28.6 per cent (1876 incidents) of stubble burning reduced in 2020 in comparison to 2019,” the CPCB said.

The pollution watchdog also said that under the central government scheme to manage crop residue in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, funds worth Rs 11.79 billion ($160 million) were released from 2018-2020.

The scheme has also been approved for continuation during 2020-21 with Rs 6 billion.