Farm fires: Delhi CM Kejriwal blames neighbouring states for rise in pollution
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday hit out at Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, blaming them for the rise in pollution in the national capital and appealed to them to help farmers dispose of their stubble.
Inaugurating a hospital in northwest Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh, Kejriwal said the Delhi government controlled the air pollution and attributed the drop in the city’s air quality index (AQI) to stubble burning in the neighbouring states.
“Delhi’s own pollution, including vehicles and industries is within the safe limit. I have been tweeting pollution data in Delhi for the past month. Pollution has started increasing from the last three or four days, and it is the pollution due to stubble, which is being burnt in the surrounding states,” said Kejriwal.
He also urged these states to adopt the Pusa bio-decomposer, a proprietary microbial solution developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) to turn crop stubble into manure.
“We made a solution. If you sprinkle it on the stubble, there is no need to burn it thereafter,” said Kejriwal.
A total of 4,092 burning events were detected between September 15 and October 16 — 2,375 in Punjab, 1,026 in Haryana, 581 in UP, none in Delhi, 27 in Rajasthan and 83 in Madhya Pradesh, according to IARI.
State environment minister Gopal Rai on Sunday also blamed the Capital’s rising pollution levels on “unchecked stubble burning” in these neighbouring states.
Rai on Sunday said that incidents of stubble burning have increased rapidly in parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana over the last three days, which has thrown Delhi’s air pollution into dangerous levels.
“According to Nasa (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the number of stubble fires on October 13 was low, due to which the air quality index was 171 on that day. As incidents of stubble burning increased in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, the pollution level in Delhi also starts increasing in the same proportion,” Rai said.
He added, “In north India, crop harvest has been delayed due to the late withdrawal of monsoon from the region. Now stubble burning has started at a rapid pace. Delhi government makes has made all preparations and is also spraying the bio-decomposer in the fields of the farmers for free, but other states have not made any such preparations.”
Rai also said that the central government granted around ₹250 crore to Punjab for the management of stubble, with which bio-decomposer can be sprayed free of cost in at least five million acres in the state.
“We started the war room and started monitoring pollution levels 24-hours a day and saw that when stubble burning increases inside Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, the pollution level of Delhi also increases in the same proportion. This year also we are seeing that the level of AQI on October 13 was 171. According to NASA pictures, the number of stubble burning incidents that day was low. But in the last three days, incidents of stubble burning have increased with great speed in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and with the speed with which the incidents of stubble burning have increased, with the same speed, the AQI reached 284 yesterday (Saturday),” he said.
The minister said that the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) had released a report last week, which claimed that the stubble burning is lesser this year compared to last year, but the case was that it is only delayed and is catching up fast.
“In Delhi, we are taking all steps to ensure that local pollution sources are kept under check. We will not hesitate in taking the strictest action in penalising violators,” he said.