New Delhi: Come winters and Delhi reels under severe levels of air pollution every year. Reason behind increase in levels of pollutants like Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) and PM 10 is usually low wind velocity, drop in temperature and external factors which prominently include crop burning in northern states of India. Last year in November and December, during and after Diwali, air quality Index (AQI) oscillated between ‘severe’ and ‘emergency’ levels. Back then, the reasons ranged from dust from construction and demolition, stubble burning, vehicular emission, smoke from factories and industries, and burning of fossil fuels.
Currently, it is only first week of October and AQI in Delhi is at 256, as against the ideal AQI 0-50, thus falling under poor category, as per System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR). To make sure history does not repeat itself, Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain on Monday (October 8), issued a statement on stubble burning and adverse changes in the air quality. In his statement, the minister very clearly said, if governments of northern states of India don’t initiate effective steps, then Delhi government will be left with no other option, but to move the courts and seek their intervention.
The statement read, “Delhi government has noted with serious concern reports in the print and electronic media that stubble burning has started in some northern states, which will have an extremely detrimental effect on the ambient air quality of the national capital in coming days. In case effective steps to mitigate the menace of stubble burning are not initiated by the respective state governments, the Delhi government may be left with no other option but to knock the doors of appropriate courts of law to seek their intervention and seek directions for time-bound effective actions by the Centre and concerned state governments.”
Statement on Delhi recently witnessing deterioration in ambient air quality in Delhi due to stubble burning in Punjab Haryana, UP, Rajasthan & again requesting central Govt & these state Govt to take effective action . pic.twitter.com/SSGgHLiK8F
— Imran Hussain (@ImranHussaain) October 8, 2018
Indirectly, the minister asked state governments to come up with convenient and cost-effective ways to deal with the paddy stubble and phase out the practice of stubble burning in the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
This is not the first time Mr. Hussain has raised the issue of stubble burning and air pollution in Delhi. On September 13, in a letter to Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Mr. Hussain requested him to direct neighbouring state governments to curb crop burning in their respective states. He also asked Mr. Vardhan to convene a meeting at his level.
Have written letter to Union Env Min @drharshvardhan requesting him to direct neighbouring state govts of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan & UP to take air pollution control measures due to crop residue burning. Have also requested him to convene a meeting at his level in this regard. pic.twitter.com/vkCdop7vuP
— Imran Hussain (@ImranHussaain) September 14, 2018
Though there is a ban on stubble burning, farmers are expected to burn stubble, this year as well. President of Bharatiya Kisan Union, Balbir Singh Rajewal, told ANI, that he and many other like him are aware of the consequences of stubble burning, but they don’t have any other option especially machinery, which was promised to them at a subsidised rate by the government.
At the NDTV-Dettol Banega Swachh India 12-hour cleanathon, Chief Minister of Punjab, talked about whether we can expect a better winter ahead this time with less stubble burning in Punjab. The Chief Minister said that there is an alternative to stubble burning and this year, farmers practising stubble burning will be penalised. While the farmers complain of lack of infrastructure, Chief Minister of Punjab, Amarinder Singh, says that they have received money from the government of India which has been put into machines which are then being given to villagers.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.