Nov. 17, 2019

The Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009 is being blamed for contributing to the air pollution over Delhi and surrounding areas.


  • The Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009 aims at conserving groundwater by mandatorily delaying the transplanting of paddy to beyond June 10, when the most severe phase of evapotranspiration (transfer of water from land to the atmosphere through evaporation from the soil and plant transpiration) is over.

  • Farmers were forbidden from sowing paddy before May 10, and transplanting it before June 10. Haryana has a similar law.

The law’s link with air pollution:

  • Farmers’ organisations say late sowing and transplanting delays the harvesting as well (it is end-October by the time operations end), and they are left with a very small window to prepare their fields for the next (wheat) crop. In this situation, setting the stubble ablaze is a quick-fix solution.

  • By this time, temperatures have started to fall, and a combination of atmospheric and meteorological conditions ensure that the smoke cannot disperse easily.

  • A part of the smoke from the farm fires is carried by westerly winds towards the NCR and further down the Indo-Gangetic plain.