Chandigarh, Nov 3 (IANS) As stubble burning in the fields continued, a blanket of smog engulfed Punjab and Haryana with the PM 2.5 level extremely high at some places over 800, on Sunday.PM 2.5 is tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated.PM 2.5 AQI in industrial town Mandi Gobindgarh was at 844 at 7.30 a.m., the worst in the state.Comparatively, its neighbouring industrial hub Ludhiana saw a day's high of 241. This was the highest in the 24 hours, according to website BreeZo.Another town Patiala saw a day's high at 223, while the state capital Chandigarh saw air quality moderate at 182. Chandigarh's low was PM 2.5 at 48 at 6.30 a.m. in the morning.The holy city of Amritsar saw at 183, while the 24-hour high was 206.According to the India Meteorological Department in Chandigarh, scattered rainfall in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh is likely on November 7 and 8 under the influence of western disturbances, which may bring relief from haze.NASA satellite images showed vast swathes of the northern plains, covering Punjab and Haryana under a smoky haze.Because of the haze, visibility was reduced substantially in most parts of Punjab and Haryana.The situation in Haryana was also grim with PM 2.5 in Ambala at 719 at 2.30 a.m. on Sunday. By 5.30 p.m it reduced to 224.In Gurugram, it was 626 at 1.30 p.m. and reduced to 157 at 5.30 p.m. in the evening.PM 2.5 was 876 at 8.30 a.m. in Panipat town, while it was 826 at 6.30 a.m. in the morning in Karnal.In a view of the alarming air pollution in Delhi and NCR, the Haryana government has ordered all private, aided and government schools till class 12th to shut till November 5 in Gurugram and Faridabad districts.Also direction was issued to the Deputy Commissioners in other districts to take decision on closure of schools.Action has been initiated against 2,923 farmers in 20,729 cases of stubble burning till November 1, which marks a 10-20 per cent decline in the number of such cases this year as against 2018, the Punjab government said on Sunday.After around 49,000 cases of stubble burning were reported last year, this year the state government has so far received reports of 20,729 cases, with more than 70 per cent of the paddy already been harvested.Despite the high court putting a stay on the recovery of fine from farmers penalised last year, the state has intensified its drive against the dangerous practice of stubble burning, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said in a statement.
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