There was a reduction in stubble burning in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh this year due to the government’s efforts, the Environment Ministry has informed the Lok Sabha.

In a written response to a question, Minister of State for Environment Babul Supriyo on Friday said the total burning incidents in the three states this year were 19 per cent less than that in 2018.

“With the efforts of the government, overall, about 15 per cent and 41 per cent reduction in burning events were observed in 2018 as compared to that in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

“During 2019-20 season, the total burning events recorded in the three states are 19.2 per cent less than in 2018 till November,” Supriyo, said.

The minister informed the house that while UP has recorded 36.8 per cent reduction, Haryana recorded 25.1 per cent and Punjab recorded 16.8 per cent reduction, respectively, in the current season than in 2018.

“Stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is considered one of the contributors to the poor air quality in Delhi and NCR during early winter months. As per System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, the estimated impact of stubble burning in PM 2.5 levels of Delhi ranged between 2 to 46 per cent this November,” the minister said.

On a question whether the government had worked out a mechanism on transportation and use of stubble as fuel in power plants, he said that as per a meeting held with the Power Ministry, it was decided that the governments of Punjab and Haryana will take effective steps to ensure that all coal-based thermal power plants, including those in private sector, use minimum of five per cent of biomass pellets and up to 10 per cent to be co-fired with coal.

The Delhi government has time and again blamed stubble burning in the neighbouring states for the severe air pollution in the capital.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, SAFAR, had said that the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution rose significantly due to farm fires in Haryana and Punjab.