Delhi is abuzz with preparations for Diwali. Yet, the city continues to slowly choke, with air quality further deteriorating and expected to cross 300 AQI soon. The fast-approaching winter will afford no respite, and Delhiites have resigned themselves to yet another spate of smoggy months, dependent on air purifiers for breathable air.
According to Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai, experts have alerted that the air quality would deteriorate further after Diwali celebrations. He further added that the government is on alert and all the directions of the Commission for Air Quality Management are being implemented.
A 15-point Winter Action Plan in order to reduce the pollution owing to stubble burning has been started in Delhi.
"A dust campaign is being run to stop stubble burning inside Delhi. Bio-de-composer is being used to stop the burning of firecrackers on Diwali in the same episode in Delhi," Rai was quoted by ANI.
On Friday the AQI of Delhi was at 262. An AQI between 201-300 is considered poor and further beyond is categorised as very poor to severe.
According to reports, Minister Rai said that in the wake of the rising pollution in the city, the Delhi government will launch a 'Red Light on Gaadi off' from October 28 to curb the pollution from vehicles.
While addressing a press conference, Rai said that there is a ban on the production, sale, storage and bursting of crackers. Up to Rs 5000 fine and imprisonment for three years are imposed on those violating the norms.
With the air quality turning poor, the Commission for Air Quality Management had asked the agencies to strictly implement the measures under Stage 1 of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
GRAP recommends strict action against industrial and household waste burning. Also, restrictions are imposed on the usage of fuel, diesel generators, and public-private transport too.
Like in many a past year, the city is sinking into another season of breathlessness and lung disease. Since air pollution could lead to severe health complications, health experts have warned people to watch out for it. Doctors have advised people to wear masks in public. Those with asthma and other respiratory complications has been advised to take precautionary measures as well.
Stubble burning politics
Stubble burning is underway in states including Punjab and Haryana. Though restrictions and bans are imposed, the discord between the farmers and governments continues. The farmers in Punjab have taken a stand that they will not back out from burning paddy unless they are suitably compensated by the government. However, steps are taken by the government to reduce the pollution of stubble burning. New scientific methods including decomposer spray are being introduced to put an end to the issue. But the real challenge ahead is covering hectares of land using these techniques.
Meanwhile, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Friday criticised Delhi CM for his inaction against the issues arising out of stubble burning.
"Delhi CM used to speak that smoke from stubble burning in Punjab is coming towards Delhi but this time he's yet to speak about it. They have their government in Punjab and can take action but they are not doing so," Anil told ANI.