AQI deteriorates in most parts of Haryana
Bursting of fire crackers despite imposition of curbs across Haryana coupled with the recent increase in farm fires worsened the air quality index (AQI) in most cities, particularly in the national capital region (NCR), on Diwali night
Bursting of fire crackers despite imposition of curbs across Haryana coupled with the recent increase in farm fires worsened the air quality index (AQI) in most cities, particularly in the national capital region (NCR), on Diwali night.
On Friday afternoon, 10 Haryana cities reported an AQI of over 400 categorised “severe” by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Severe AQI affects even the healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing health conditions, the CPCB said.
As per the CPCB bulletin, the 10 cities reporting severe AQI post-Diwali are Gurugram (472), Faridabad (469), Ballabhgarh (462), Jind (462), Charkhi Dadri, (424), Bhiwani (437), Hisar, (405), Manesar (458), Panipat (413), and Rohtak (437).
As per the CPCB data, the air quality of nine other cities in state was categorised “very poor”. These include Ambala (301), Fatehabad (330), Daruhera (383), Kaithal (377), Karnal (329), Kurukshetra (354), Narnaul (377), Palwal (314) and Sonepat (400).
Of the 24 cities chosen for the air quality bulletin, Panchkula was the only city which had “moderate” air quality with an AQI measured below 200, whereas the air quality of Sirsa and Yamunanagar cities was “poor”.
Farm fires on the rise?
Even as the number of farm fires has gone up in the past couple of days, officials said that there are discrepancies in the data of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Haryana Space Application Centre (HARSAC).
The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) officials said the state has reported 228 incidents of farm fires on November 4 and 331 on November 5, an increase of about 100 incidents as compared to last year. The number of total active fire locations is over 3,600.
Additional chief secretary (agriculture) Sumita Misra said while the HARSAC satellite data showed about 50% reduction in farm fires as compared to last year, the ICAR data indicated an increase. “We need to reconcile this data before we reach a conclusion,” she said.
Director general (environment) and member secretary of HSPCB, S Narayanan said though the statistics showed an increase in farm fires due to residual burning, many fires could have started because of the use of firecrackers. “We will need to verify this as well,” he said.
CPCB for zero tolerance
The CPCB has taken a serious note of rising air pollution in Delhi and the national capital region. CPCB chairman Tanmay Kumar has written to the Haryana chief secretary besides the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi for strict vigilance to ensure zero tolerance to air polluting activities in the upcoming winter season.
“Delhi and NCR were among the worst affected regions in country by the Covid-19 pandemic causing respiratory illness since air quality in Delhi-NCR becomes susceptible to deterioration during winter months under unfavourable meteorological conditions and if effective preventive actions are not taken the situation may worsen,” reads the letter, mentioning that the air pollution in Delhi-NCR during critical winter months is a matter of serious concern.
The apex pollution watchdog has expressed concerns over the incidents causing air pollution including open burning of waste, improper handling of construction waste and emission from industries.
The CPCB has issued directions for strict implementation of the nine points by preparing a detailed action plan by November 10.
HSPCB member secretary S Narayanan said, “We have already received the communication and have circulated the same to field officers for strict implementation.”
Narayanan has admitted that firecrackers burst on Diwali night was a major factor behind the deteriorated air quality, despite the ban on sale and bursting of firecrackers in 14 NCR districts.