The higher incidence of crop residue burning in northern states is a matter of particular concern this year because the resultant spike in air pollution can exacerbate the prevailing public health crisis. Though, typically, these fires are noticed during the peak paddy harvesting season from mid-October to November-end, this year, they began in September and have increased menacingly in Punjab and Haryana. The Centre has, therefore, done well to ask the governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Delhi to initiate timely action to curb this practice. These fires have been estimated to cause between 30 and 45 per cent surge in winter air pollution in the National Capital Region and its adjoining areas in the past few years.
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