Farm fires keep Delhi’s air quality ‘severe’

Contribution of stubble burning to Capital’s PM2.5 pollution estimated at 32%

November 08, 2020 12:32 am | Updated 12:32 am IST - New Delhi

A view of  north Delhi from Bhalswa landfill on Saturday.

A view of north Delhi from Bhalswa landfill on Saturday.

The Capital’s air quality remained in the ‘severe’ category for the third consecutive day on Saturday as Punjab and nearby regions recorded the highest number of stubble burning incidents so far this season.

The farm fire count in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand stood at 4,528 on Friday, the Centre’s Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi said. It also stated that the city’s air quality is likely to remain ‘severe’ on Diwali too.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi’s 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) on Saturday was 427. It had reached 443 in the morning. The AQI of Gurugram was 439 on Saturday, 436 in Ghaziabad, 428 in Greater Noida, 426 in Noida and 414 in Faridabad — all in the ‘severe’ category.

Experts said while weather conditions were “moderately” favourable for dispersion of pollutants, a “very high” number of farm fires in Punjab was the main reason for the ‘severe’ air quality. “Surface winds were calm today [Saturday] morning and pollutants had accumulated near the surface,” said monitoring agency SAFAR.

Contribution of stubble burning to Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution was estimated at 32% for Saturday.

The PM2.5 level in Delhi was 292 microgram per cubic metre — nearly 5 times the safe limit.

Surface winds are likely to decrease over the coming days and no quick recovery in air quality is expected.

It added that AQI is likely to remain in the upper end of ‘very poor’ category on November 13 and enter the ‘severe’ category on November 14 (Diwali).

Meanwhile, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta attacked the Delhi government over rising pollution.

“The Arvind Kejriwal-led government has a budget of ₹60,000 crore but has not installed smog towers, bought buses or fulfilled any promise of the Green budget to control air pollution,” he said, while addressing the Kotla Mubarak and Deoli Mandal Prashikshan Shivir (training camp).

Senior BJP leader Vijay Goel, meanwhile, met firecracker traders on Saturday and said he would sit on a dharna if the Delhi government does not compensate them for the losses due to the ban imposed on crackers in the city.

He said the Delhi government and police issued scores of licenses in October for selling firecrackers and traders had picked up stock by the time the ban was announced.

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