As instances of agricultural waste burning in Punjab continue to rise, the persistent smog and haze situation in Delhi is expected to endure for a minimum of four more days, awaiting a potential shift in meteorological conditions to provide some relief.
The surge in agricultural burning, a customary annual practice, typically extends for approximately two weeks. This year, the increase was evident from October 31. Given that roughly 35% of Punjab’s land is devoted to paddy cultivation, totaling about 10 lakh hectares, and a substantial portion of the crop is yet to be harvested, the burning activities are likely to persist for an extended period.
The possibility of an improvement in air quality depends on a disruption in the current meteorological conditions, which, in their typical behavior for this season, tend to exacerbate the problem by trapping pollutants in the lower layers of the atmosphere. A western disturbance event, anticipated around November 7, holds the potential to modify this situation.
Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, the Director General of the India Meteorological Department, clarified, “There is currently a subsidence in the air. During the winter season, atmospheric circulation in this region typically exhibits an anti-cyclonic pattern, causing the air to descend. In contrast, during a cyclonic circulation, as seen in the monsoon season, the air tends to rise. However, the current downward movement of the air prevents pollutant particles from dispersing vertically and keeps them near the surface. It’s not that the weather is causing this pollution, but it is currently not contributing to its mitigation.”