Every November, air pollution in northern India reaches levels unimaginable in most parts of the world, forcing schools shut and filling hospital wards with wheezing patients.
As winter descends, cooler air traps car fumes, factory emissions and construction dust close to the ground, fomenting a toxic brew of harmful pollutants that regularly exceed 30 times the World Health Organization safe limit.
The scourge is compounded — rushing to ready their fields for next season’s wheat crop — use fire to quickly and cheaply clear their land.
Satellite imagery shows countless spot fires already burning in Haryana and Punjab, two breadbasket states bordering Delhi.
S Narayanan, from Haryana’s State Pollution Control Board, said 300,000 rupees in fines had been issued and fires were down 40 percent in some areas.
“But our intention is not only to take punitive action, but to educate the farmers,” he told AFP.
Many farmers feel scapegoated for the modern-day problems of India’s fast-growing, chaotic cities.
The WHO in May listed 14 Indian cities in the world’s top 15 with the dirtiest air, with Delhi dubbed the most polluted major centre.
Source : News Feeds