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Delhiites Wake up to Thick Layer of Smog, Air Quality Dips to 'Very Poor' as Farmers Defy Stubble Burning Ban

On Monday morning, the AQI of Delhi-NCR areas such as Rohini (207), Dwarka (194), Pusa Road (182), Mandir Marg (179), Noida Sector 62 (217), Noida Sector 125 (202) and Ghaziabad (252) oscillated between ‘poor’ to ‘moderate’.


Updated:October 14, 2019, 8:46 AM IST
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Delhiites Wake up to Thick Layer of Smog, Air Quality Dips to 'Very Poor' as Farmers Defy Stubble Burning Ban
(Representative Image: PTI)

New Delhi: A thick layer of haze lingered over the national capital on Monday morning as its air quality index deteriorated further, touching the 239-mark in several areas such as Jahagirpuri, Punjabi Bagh and Wazirpur.

According to data provided by aqicn.org, which offers real-time air quality index for more than 60 countries in the world, the pollution level in the city has plunged with the Air Quality Index (AQI) oscillating between 'moderate' to ‘poor' category.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 is satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 is marked as severe/hazardous.

On Sunday, the AQI in Anand Vihar was 327; Wazirpur 323; Vivek Vihar 317; Mundka 309; Bawana 302; and in Jahangirpuri 300, according to Central Pollution Control Board data.

On Monday morning, the AQI of Delhi-NCR areas such as Rohini (207), Dwarka (194), Pusa Road (182), Mandir Marg (179), Noida Sector 62 (217), Noida Sector 125 (202), Ghaziabad (252), Anand Vihar (218) and Patparganj (189) wavered between ‘poor’ to ‘moderate’ as reports emerged of farmers defying stubble burning ban in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana,

Perturbed by the situation, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "All the gains achieved so far on pollution front will be nullified. Whereas, we need to do a lot in Delhi and we are trying, however, all governments and all agencies need to work to stop crop burning also (sic)."

On Saturday, he had said smoke from crop residue burning in neighbouring states has started reaching Delhi and the air quality has started deteriorating.

"It has been widely reported that the smoke coming to Delhi is due to the burning of stubble in Karnal, Haryana," he had said.

The Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research said smoke from stubble burning will make up six per cent of Delhi’s pollution by October 15, when GRAP comes into force in the Delhi-NCR region.

Prepared by Central Pollution Control Board, GRAP lists various measures to be taken according to severity of pollution.

The 10-member task force on the GRAP had on Friday held a meeting on the stubble burning incidents reported from Punjab and Haryana, and its likely impact on Delhi-NCR’s air quality.

V K Soni, a senior scientist at the India Meteorological Department, who attended the meeting, said winds are calm due to monsoon withdrawal, leading to low dispersion of pollutants.

Also, wind direction has changed to west and north-west, he said.

Though Haryana has reported a slight decrease in the number of stubble burning incidents, Punjab has reported a massive increase of 45 per cent in such cases till October 11, according to data of pollution control boards of the two states.

Despite a ban on stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, farmers continue to defy it amid a lack of financial incentives.

State governments are providing 50 to 80 per cent subsidy to farmers and cooperative societies to buy modern farm equipment for in-situ management of paddy straw and running a massive awareness campaign against stubble burning.

Starting October 15, stricter measures to fight air pollution will come into force in Delhi and its neighbourhood as part of GRAP, which was first implemented in Delhi-NCR in 2017.

These measures include increasing bus and metro services, hiking parking fees and stopping use of diesel generator sets when the air quality turns poor.

When the situation turns “severe”, GRAP recommends closure of brick kilns, stone crushers and hot mix plants, sprinkling of water, frequent mechanised cleaning of roads and maximising power generation from natural gas.

The measures to be followed in the “emergency” situation include stopping entry of trucks into Delhi, ban on construction activities and introduction of the odd-even car rationing scheme.

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