Delhi engulfed by toxic smog | Representational image | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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New Delhi: The national capital’s air quality remained in the ‘poor’ category Saturday and no respite is expected any time soon.

There has been a spike in the farm fires over Punjab, adjoining Pakistan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and this could send the air quality in Delhi-NCR spiralling into the hazardous category.

The Air Quality Index (AQI), as recorded by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), stood at 287 at 4 pm Saturday. The 24-hour average AQI was 239 Friday and 315 Thursday.

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’.

As per the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi, the situation is likely to remain in ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ category Sunday and Monday. “As per AQ-EWS models the air quality over Delhi NCR is likely to remain in Poor to lower end of Very Poor category on 17.10.2020. The air quality is likely to remain in Poor to lower end of Very Poor category on 18.10.2020 and Very Poor category on 19.10.2020,” read the bulletin for Delhi.

It further said that a “significant increase in fire points over Punjab, adjoining Pakistan, Haryana and UP are observed which are likely impact of air quality of Delhi NCR, the contribution is likely to increase significantly on 19.10.2020.”

Also read: Delhi to get more smog towers to fight pollution, but experts say it will be waste of money

Blame game erupts

Concerned over the rising pollution, the Delhi government announced a slew of measures this week, including ban on the use of electricity generators, except those needed for essential or emergency services.

However, a tussle broke out between ministers of the Narendra Modi government and AAP government, with Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar pointing out that the stubble burning in neighbouring states contribute only 4 per cent of Delhi’s pollution. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed it a “denial“.

Javadekar has said he will apprise people of the steps taken by the Modi government Sunday.

The BJP also slammed Kejriwal and AAP leaders in Punjab and alleged that they have not taken any concrete steps to control air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region.

BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma said rather than introducing measures to tackle the situation, the AAP government is busy playing politics over the air pollution.

“Around 70 per cent of pollution in Delhi is due to local factors. 10 per cent pollution in Delhi is due to road dust. The central government had already allocated Rs 1,600 crore to combat pollution and stubble burning,” said Sharma.

Delhi’s AQI already plummeted to the “very poor” category Tuesday when it stood at 304. In the preceding days, the AQI remained in the “poor” category. The AQI was 261 on 12 October , 216 on 11 October, and 221 on 10 October.

Doctors and experts have said rising pollution will likely lead to an increase in Covid cases.

Also read: 65% Delhi-NCR households already experiencing pollution-related ailments, finds survey


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