New Delhi: The air quality in the national capital and its neighbouring areas continued to remain poor on Thursday, owing to constant stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. As per the latest Air Quality Index (AQI) data, the air quality of Delhi’s Lodhi Road area showed levels of prominent pollutants PM 2.5 and PM 10 at 224 and 272, respectively, above normal. Also Read - Lockdown 5.0 in Punjab: Sukhbir Badal Urges CM Amarinder Singh to Allow Places of Worship to Open
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”. Also Read - Sealed Haryana-Delhi Border Day 2: Massive Jam Reported, Cops Checking Passes, IDs of Commuters
On Wednesday, the AQI was recorded to be at 407 at Anand Vihar whereas it was 280 at Mandir Marg. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was recorded at 293, just eight points below the ‘very poor’ category. The PM10 level (presence of particles with a diameter less than 10 micrometres) in Delhi stood at 274 and the PM2.5 level was recorded at 119. Both PM10 and PM2.5 are in the poor category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board’s data.
Several factors like vehicular pollution, construction activities and meteorological factors like wind speed are believed to be responsible for continuing pollution in the city.
On the other hand, farmers in Punjab are continuing to burn stubble in Ludhiana’s Raul village, owing to the absence of machinery. “We are small farmers. The government claims they have dispatched machines but there is no machine here to collect stubble. What else will we do? Happy seeder isn’t suitable for us. Machines are very expensive, cannot afford,” a farmer said.
On Monday, an emergency plan to combat air pollution came into force in Delhi-NCR. The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), which has come into effect for the second year, ensures stringent actions are taken based on the air quality.
Under the plan, measures like mechanised sweeping of roads, ban on garbage burning, pollution control measures at brick kilns and deployment of police to ensure smooth passage of traffic at vulnerable areas are in force in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) as the air quality lies in the poor category.
Furthermore, a ban on the use of gensets has also been imposed in the city. However, they are being allowed to operate in parts of the NCR due to power issues.
The GRAP, notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 2012, prescribes a set of measures to curb air pollution based on the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) daily Air Quality Index (AQI).
Air pollution in Delhi and nearby states increases particularly due to burning of paddy straw during October and November and wheat straw during April in Punjab and Haryana. Recently, NASA had released images showing rampant stubble burning activity in the two states. On its official website, it had stated that burning of crop residue in Punjab and Haryana has increased significantly over the past 10 days in and near Amritsar, Ambala, Karnal, Sirsa, and Hisar.