Delhi’s air quality ‘very poor’ as farm fires share rises to 26%

Meteorological conditions cause smoke from stubble burning to blow towards Capital

October 30, 2022 09:22 pm | Updated 09:35 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A farmer burns stubble at his paddy field, in Jalandhar on October 30.

A farmer burns stubble at his paddy field, in Jalandhar on October 30. | Photo Credit: PTI

The share of stubble burning in the neighboring States that contributes to Delhi’s pollution rose to 26% on Sunday, the highest this year so far. It was 21% on Saturday, meteorological officials said.

Atmospheric conditions are such that smoke from the farm fires are now blowing towards the Capital, alerting agencies to take localised measures to minimise the impact. Until Friday, the impact of stubble burning remained low, contributing to 7% of the pollution due to a prolonged rain spell in October and slow transport-level winds.

The Delhi government on Sunday said that it has formed 586 teams that will monitor the construction-demolition ban that has come into force due to rising pollution levels. It also announced a host of local measures like water sprinkling and anti-smog guns to control localised sources of pollution.

During the winter season, there is usually a spike in pollution in the Capital due to an increase of biomass burning and localised factors such as vehicular pollution and dust. These factors, combined with meteorological situations like change in the speed of wind or changes in the direction of the wind, lead to a further spike in pollution levels.

The Central government’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting Research (SAFAR) in its bulletin on Sunday said, “Local surface winds are 6 to 8 km/hr for the next three days that cause weak dispersion of pollutants. Share of stubble burning emissions in Delhi’s PM2.5 is 26% due to winds at transport-level blowing from north-west direction. Air quality is likely to remain within ‘very poor’ for next three days due to combined effect of transport as well as local weather conditions.”

Addressing a press conference, Environment Minster Gopal Rai said that according to experts, the information that the government has received is that after November 1, the air quality is likely to worsen and deteriorate from the current “very poor” category to the “severe” category.

“We held a meeting with all the stakeholders, particularly those who are engaged in the construction business – PWD, CPWD, MCD, DDA, Railways and all the agencies working in the construction sites and informed them about the ban on construction and demolition work. These teams will be mobilised to enforce the ban,” Mr. Rai said.

The Minister said that he had also requested the Uttar Pradesh government to try to avoid the usage of diesel buses in the bordering areas of Delhi at this time.

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