The smog currently enveloping Pakistan’s major cities including Lahore and its neighbourhood is apparently due to a legislation in its Eastern neighbour India, in its agriculture sector.
Though the experts in Pakistan had warned that the reason of somg in the country is due to India, substantial evidence has now popped up in the form of India’s ‘Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act in 2009’.
According to the legislation, the farmers are bound to delay the clearing of the fields to the end of October- a season in which the wind pattern drastically changes as it starts blowing into Delhi from the north and affects Pakistan as well.
Until a few years ago, farmers in Punjab burnt the remnants of the rice crops in preparation for sowing wheat but the smoke from such fires was confined to Punjab.
At that time, farmers burnt the straw in late September and early October, however, the recent legislation has compelled the farmers to delayed the burning until late October in which the wind patterns support infiltration of smoke into Pakistan from its eatern neighbour.
According to this law, farmers can no longer sow rice in April, but have to wait until the middle of June for the cultivation and following Punjab, Haryana too has passed a similar law.
In order to understand the connection one needs to understand the cultivation cycle of rice which has a 120-day period between germination and harvest, and the restriction on sowing the grain means that the fields would be harvested and cleared only in October, by which time the direction of the wind would have changed – in a visible vindication of effects on Pakistan.
However, the argument seems shallow and according to the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), water in rice fields contributes to recharging the groundwater and very little of it is lost to evaporation.
The data from Uttar Pradesh in IWMI’s analysis further deals a blow to the claims made by the government as it shows that rice fields in the state contributed to increasing the level of the water table.