Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Friday said that Delhi’s air quality had deteriorated due to a surge in farm fires and some people bursting firecrackers on purpose on Diwali despite a ban on it. He alleged that the BJP made people burst firecrackers on Diwali on Thursday. Rai said Delhi’s base pollution has remained the same. Only two factors have been added firecrackers and stubble burning.
“A large number of people did not burst firecrackers. I thank them all. But some people burst firecrackers on purpose. The BJP made them do it,” he told reporters here. The minister said the number of farm fires has risen to 3,500 and its impact is visible in Delhi.
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality forecast agency SAFAR, stubble burning accounted for 36 per cent of Delhi’s PM2.5 on Friday, the highest so far this season. “The overall air quality of Delhi plunged to the upper end of the severe category with additional firework emissions… The share of stubble emissions has peaked today at 36 per cent,” said Gufran Beig, the founder project director of SAFAR.
On Thursday, farm fires accounted for 25 per cent of Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution. Last year, the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution had peaked at 42 per cent on November 5. In 2019, crop residue burning accounted for 44 per cent of Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution on November 1.
The contribution of stubble burning to Delhi’s PM2.5 concentration was 32 per cent on Diwali last year as compared to 19 per cent in 2019. A thick layer of acrid smog engulfed the Delhi-NCR region on Friday following the rampant bursting of firecrackers on Diwali night amid a rapid increase in fumes from stubble burning.
Ahead of the festive season, the Delhi government had announced a complete ban on firecrackers till January 1, 2022. It ran an aggressive campaign against the sale and use of firecrackers. Delhi’s air quality index (AQI), which entered the ‘severe’ category last night, continued its upward trend and stood at 462 at 12 pm on Friday.
The neighbouring cities of Faridabad (460), Greater Noida (423), Ghaziabad (450), Gurugram (478) and Noida (466) also recorded ‘severe’ air quality at 12 pm. An AQI between zero 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’.