A study that has analysed data for the last 30 years has revealed that air pollution, arising out of smog and other pollutants, drastically reduced wheat yields in densely populated states in the country by nearly 50 percent, making it significantly lower than what they could have been in 2010.
According to the assessment, up to 90 percent of the decrease in potential food production seems linked to smog, made up of black carbon and other pollutants.
The remaining 10 percent are accounted by factors like changes linked to global warming and precipitation levels. The research paper, ‘Recent climate and air pollution impacts on Indian agriculture’, published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, analysed the impacts of pollution on wheat production.
Scientists based their findings on the historical data on crop yields, emissions and precipitation. The research has confirmed the assessments and studies of scientists in the past on the impact of air pollution on food production.
According to experts, the smog results in North India mainly due to vehicular emissions and emissions from massive agricultural residue burning in states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Massive crop residue burning takes place in Punjab, where it is a banned activity, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The issue of open straw burning is currently monitored by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which has directed the agriculture ministry to draft guidelines preventing the hazardous practice at the earliest.
Vikrant Tongad, the petitioner in the case before the green tribunal, said, "The Centre is not acting against the farmers polluting the air because of political reasons".