Delhi air pollution: Oppn ‘encouraged’ people to burst crackers, says minister

  • Delhi’s air quality deteriorated rapidly after Diwali as the average air quality index, rose to 462, the highest since 2016, a day after Diwali.
The level of PM 2.5 rose to record levels in the last 24 hours, due to a combination of stubble burning and bursting of firecrackers.. (ANI Photo/ Amit Sharma)(Amit Sharma)
The level of PM 2.5 rose to record levels in the last 24 hours, due to a combination of stubble burning and bursting of firecrackers.. (ANI Photo/ Amit Sharma)(Amit Sharma)
Published on Nov 05, 2021 04:51 PM IST
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By | Written by Ayshee Bhaduri | Edited by Sohini Goswami, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Delhi environment minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Gopal Rai on Friday hit out at opposition parties for “encouraging” citizens to burst firecrackers on Diwali leading to the deterioration in the national capital’s air quality despite the government’s best efforts.

Delhi’s air quality deteriorated rapidly after Diwali as the average air quality index (AQI), rose to 462, the highest since 2016, a day after Diwali. The national capital’s AQI breached the ‘severe’ category around 9pm on Thursday for the first time this year.

“Some people had intentionally asked people to burst firecrackers during Diwali. The Delhi Government has already made several appeals to the people regarding the pollution condition, but opposition parties just for the sake of politics encouraged people to burn firecrackers, which now resulted in deteriorated conditions," Rai told reporters on Friday.

Rai alleged that even though citizens mostly resisted bursting crackers, some partook in the activity on Diwali after adding “religious colour” to the issue. "Most of the citizens of Delhi didn't burn crackers on Diwali but yes several people after giving religious colour into it, intentionally burned the firecrackers,” Rai said

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced a complete ban on firecrackers till January 1, citing the deteriorating air quality in the national capital during winter. Kejriwal’s order was met with resistance from traders’ body which took the matter to Delhi high court but the plea was ultimately turned down.

However, experts had cautioned that the ban might not be able to help Delhi’s AQI as people had easy access to crackers being sold in the markets of neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

Stubble burning is also at its peak in the neighbouring states, which adds to the deteriorating air quality. "According to NASA pictures, there are almost 3,500 stubble burning incidents taking place in neighbouring states," Rai said acknowledging the impact of stubble fires on Delhi’s AQI.

An AQI of 401 is categorised as ‘severe’. The level of PM 2.5, a common air pollutant, rose to record levels in the last 24 hours, due to a combination of stubble burning and bursting of firecrackers.

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