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Haze due to farm fires in Haryana, U.P. and Punjab, says Sheila

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
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Delhi Cabinet takes help of NASA images to discover cause of the smog

Poor visibility due to heavy fog on Ring Road in Delhi on Wednesday afternoon.- Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma
Poor visibility due to heavy fog on Ring Road in Delhi on Wednesday afternoon.- Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

With the Capital facing constant haze and smog over the past many days, the Delhi Cabinet on Wednesday took help of pictures taken by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to find an answer to the problem. And after deliberations on the subject, it discovered that much of the smog had to do with burning of rice husk and stalks by farmers in their paddy fields in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

“The Cabinet on Wednesday expressed deep concern at the smog which has engulfed the city. We have asked the pollution committees and scientists to find out what is happening so that such a scenario is not repeated in future, especially if it can be avoided,’’ said Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit while talking to The Hindu .

Ms. Dikshit said to learn the real cause behind the smog, which has just refused to go away, the Cabinet also viewed images from NASA to draw a conclusion. “And we discovered that much of the smoke which is hanging over Delhi is actually due to burning of rice stalks in the paddy fields in neighbouring Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. It is as if it is deliberately being done to choke Delhi.’’

Taking strong exception to the lack of initiative on part of these two State Governments to clamp down on this banned practise of burning dried stalks in the fields, the Delhi Cabinet has directed the Environment Department to take up the matter with the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and National Capital Region Planning Board to commission a study to find out the sources of pollution and its movement towards Delhi.

It has also instructed the Environment Secretary to explain the causes and effects of haze.

The Cabinet also took notice of the primary reasons for the smog which was attributed to “slow wind speed, low temperature and high humidity’’.

It was stated that “these conditions appear to have led to high dust concentration and higher concentration of oxides of nitrogen as the pollutants are unable to disperse due to inversion phenomenon.’’ Ms. Dikshit said with change in wind speed, the haze is likely to disperse.

The Chief Minister said since some quarters had raised the issue of the smog being caused by automobiles in Delhi, that aspect was also discussed.

“We have directed the Environment Department to get a comprehensive Source Appointment Study conducted for studying various air pollutants and their role in causing air pollution and suggest various measures to improve the quality of air. The study has been awarded to IIT Kanpur.’’

Ms. Dikshit said as far as vehicles are concerned it was also noted that “both U.P. and Haryana have been slow in executing the peripheral expressway projects around Delhi and due to this the vehicles which were to bypass Delhi were passing through it and adding to the pollution here. We want these State to expedite the projects in their areas.’’

Meanwhile, the Transport Department and the Delhi Police have also been directed to launch a special drive for checking emission of vehicles using Delhi for transit.

Ms. Dikshit said a public awareness campaign has also been launched through print media and FM radio to urge people not to use fire crackers during this festive season.

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