Delhi’s air quality remained “severe”, with stubble burning accounting for 30 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution in the capital, according to the Central Pollution Control Board and SAFAR, a forecasting agency under the Ministry of Earth and Sciences.
Today, the Air Quality Index (AQI) at Noida (UP) is 529, 478 in Gurugram (Haryana) and 534 near Dhirpur, all in ‘Severe’ category. Delhi’s overall AQI is currently in ‘Severe’ category at 431.
On 4 November, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann owned responsibility for paddy straw burning in the agrarian state and promised to curb the practice by next winter.
“We (AAP) have our government in Punjab and we are responsible if ‘parali’ is being burnt there. Farmers are not responsible for it,” Kejriwal said in a joint press conference with Mann.
Kejriwal further clarified that air pollution is a ‘North Indian problem’, hence, AAP or Delhi government is not solely responsible for it.
“Air pollution is a North India problem. AAP, Delhi Govt or Punjab govt are not solely responsible. Now not the time for blame game,” AAP supremo said.
The number of stubble burning incidents in Punjab rose 12.59 per cent year-on-year to 26,583 in the last 50 days, with a spurt in such cases after Diwali, according to the latest Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) data.
However, when compared to Punjab, the number of paddy stubble burning events in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi remained lower between September 15 and November 4 this year, the data showed.
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) on Thursday decided to implement measures under Stage IV of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) -- a set of anti-pollution measures followed in the national capital and its vicinity, according to the severity of the situation -- in view of the worsening air quality in Delhi-NCR.
As citizens, some dos and don’ts can be followed like wearing N-95 masks when stepping out, staying hydrated, following a good diet, investing in air purifying indoor plants, avoid smoking.
- According to an order by the Transport Department, all CNG and electric trucks would be allowed to enter Delhi.
- BS-VI vehicles and those used for essential and emergency services are exempted from ban.
- For commuters’ convenience, public transport services will be augmented. The transport department will hire up to 1,000 private CNG contract carriage buses through DTC for 60 days. It may be extended up to 90 days. In the first phase, 500 buses will be hired, it added. The plan will remain in force till further orders by the Commission for Air Quality Management.
- The CAQM banned the plying of four-wheeled diesel light motor vehicles in Delhi and adjoining NCR districts.
- Any diesel truck would not be allowed entry into Delhi except for those carrying essential commodities or providing essential services. Diesel-operated medium and heavy goods vehicles registered in Delhi will not be allowed to ply in Delhi except those carrying essential commodities or providing essential services.
- The order issued by Delhi Transport Department also states that the BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel light motor vehicle will be banned from plying in the areas under the jurisdiction of the NCT of Delhi. The department has also implied fine of ₹20,000 who violates the rules.
- Closure of all industries not running on clean fuels. Industries like milk and dairy units and those involved in manufacturing life-saving medical equipment or devices, drugs, and medicines shall, however, be exempted from these restrictions
- Ban imposed on construction and demolition activities includes projects such as highways, roads, flyovers, overhead bridges, power transmission and pipelines.
- Factories and construction sites have also been shut.
- Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai on 4 November also announced mandatory work-for-home for 50 percent Delhi government employees.
- Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the closure of primary schools from today, till the air quality improves in the city.
- Schools have been shifted to online classes up to the eighth grade in Noida.