A layer of eye-stinging smog lingered over Delhi on Thursday morning as its air quality lingered in the ‘very poor’ category with stubble burning accounting for 12 per cent of the city’s PM2.5 pollution.
SAFAR, a forecasting agency under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, had earlier said stubble burning accounted for 32 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution in the capital on Wednesday.
According to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Punjab reported 3,634 farm fires on Wednesday, the highest this year so far. The number stood at 1,842 on Tuesday, 2,131 on Monday, 1,761 on Sunday, 1,898 on Saturday and 2,067 on Friday.
SAFAR said the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution was “moderate” at 12 per cent due to unfavourable transport-level wind speed.
Transport-level winds blow in the lowest two layers of the atmosphere the troposphere and stratosphere — and carry smoke from farm fires to the national capital region.
Farm fires accounted for 14 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution in the national capital on Tuesday, 22 per cent on Monday, 26 per cent on Sunday and 21 per cent on Saturday, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).
Vehicular emission contributed half of PM 2.5 pollution from local sources in Delhi during the Diwali week between October 21 and October 26, according to the latest assessment by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
It said that when pollution concentrations from all sources — local, NCR and beyond — are added, Delhi’s vehicles account for nearly 17 per cent of total PM2.5 concentration. But, according to CSE’s indicative data, vehicles’ daily share of pollution varied between 49.3 per cent and 53 per cent during the week of Diwali.
Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai had yesterday put the blame on the “people” of Delhi for the rising pollution levels in Delhi and had urged citizens to avoid using private vehicles, and use public transport. he had also advied people to work from home, saying that vehicular emission was the major cause of the dip in air quality.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday blamed the central government for rising incidents of stubble burning in Punjab and said it should “resign” if it cannot control air pollution.
He told reporters here that the Punjab government had prepared a plan to give a cash incentive of Rs 2,500 per acre to farmers so that they are not forced to burn stubble.
“The Centre rejected the proposal. They said they won’t do anything for the farmers because of their protests against the three farm laws. The central government’s hatred for farmers is the reason behind the smoke (from farm fires) all around,” Kejriwal claimed.
He said the Delhi government has been doing everything possible to fight air pollution and has strictly implemented curbs on pollution activities under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). Similarly, the Punjab government has taken all necessary steps to prevent stubble burning.