Political accusations fly thick and fast over reasons for air quality dip

While urging opposition-ruled Punjab to stop stubble burning, Environment minister Prakash Javdekar said only 4% of the air pollution in the capital is due to stubble burning and the remaining comes from ‘local factors’.

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MLA Raghav Chadha tried to counter this by quoting CPCB’s 2019 data.
New Delhi: Even as a smoky haze begins to settle over Delhi-NCR marking the start of the capital’s ‘pollution season’, political accusations are flying thick and fast over the reasons for the dip in air quality.

While urging opposition-ruled Punjab to stop stubble burning, Environment minister Prakash Javdekar said only 4% of the air pollution in the capital is due to stubble burning and the remaining comes from ‘local factors’. The comment sparked an immediate war of words with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal taking to twitter to counter the minister’s comment.

“Staying in denial will not help. If stubble burning causes only 4% pollution, then why has pollution suddenly increased last fortnight? Air was clean before that. Same story every yr,” the CM tweeted. He said there was “no massive jump in any local source of pollution in the last few days to cause this spike” and called for de-politicising the issue.


“Let’s accept that stubble burning causes huge pollution every yr in North India during this time. And let’s all together find a soln (solution) sincerely. Blame game and politics hasn’t helped anyone. People r suffering. I am extremely worried that pollution will play havoc coupled wid corona”, the CM tweeted.

MLA Raghav Chadha tried to counter this by quoting CPCB’s 2019 data. “The Central Pollution Control Board’s estimate of 2019 suggests that stubble burning contributed up to 44% to Delhi’s air pollution. Ministry of Earth Sciences’ SAFAR said at peak of stubble burning in Punjab & Haryana account for 44% of Delhi's pollution,” Chadha tweeted on the issue.

Earlier in the day, the environment minister flagged off 50 CPCB inspection teams to monitor the situation in pollution hotspots in Delhi-NCR.
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“Only 4% pollution is due to stubble burning. Ninety-six per cent is due to local factors like biomass burning, garbage dumping, unpaved roads, dust, construction and demolition activities, etc.,” the minister had said.

This debate comes at a time when Delhi-NCR’s air quality levels are running ‘very poor’ this week. On Thursday evening, the Air Quality Index breached the 300-mark at several places in the capital amid rising PM-10 and PM-2.5 levels.

Stricter anti-pollution measures have been initiated under the Graded Response Action Plan and among the first steps taken is the ban on diesel generators in NCR. On Thursday, Kejriwal announced a drive asking people to switch off their vehicle engines at traffic intersections when the light turns red.

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