The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had on Monday came down heavily on the Delhi government for not filing a comprehensive action plan on ways to deal with severe air pollution in the city. The tribunal had also slammed the authorities for holding the India-Sri Lanka cricket Test despite bad air quality when smog returned after showing some signs of improvement over the last few days. The Delhi government, on the other hand, tried to pass the buck to Punjab and Haryana, saying there was too much crop stubble burning happening there.
However, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) officials maintain that not a single straw of paddy was been burnt in the state over the last 15 days. They also point out that over 85% of the paddy fields in the state have now been replaced with wheat crop.
PPCB chairman Kahan Singh Pannu said there was no alarming situation in the state and the fields were lush green with wheat sprouting from the ground. He said the ambient air quality index (AQI) had also improved over the last few days with the monitoring stations in Amritsar, Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh showing readings of 240, 283 and 286 micrograms per cubic metre respectively, as on Monday.
Till a few days back, when paddy residue was being put on fire across the state, the AQI monitors were reflecting readings of 320 micrograms per cubic metre in Amritsar, 332 micrograms per cubic metre in Ludhiana and 371 micrograms per cubic metre at Mandi Gobindgarh.
Pannu said there has been a considerable fall in the pollution levels across the state, suggesting that stubble burning contributed around 100 micrograms per cubic metre pollutants to the air. However, as the state’s air quality is still in the bracket of ‘poor’, the PPCB chairman attributed the situation to the phenomena of ‘winter inversion’, in which suspended particulate matter gets concentrated in the lower strata of the atmosphere.
The dispersion of pollutants was at an all-time low and thus the state’s air quality was yet to improve further as factors like industrial and vehicular pollution continue to add pollutants to the atmosphere, PPCB chairman said. “However, blaming Punjab for smog in Delhi now was totally out of context,” he added.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the AQI readings for 16 monitoring stations installed in Delhi showed an average reading of 468.7 micrograms per cubic metre. These stations reflected that the air quality across the national capital was in the ‘serve’ category, forcing the Delhi government to dig out the reasons for increased pollution in the air.
Punjab registers 46.01% fall in number of straw burning cases
During the recently concluded paddy harvest season, the state this year registered a 46.01% fall in the number of cases of straw burning. According to the data available with Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), while a total of 80,879 cases of stubble burning had been reported from across the state in 2016, the number was 43,660 till November 18, 2016, after which no data was collected as straw burning had come to an end. The cases recorded last year were based on the information gathered by PPCB through various field officers and complaints received at its offices. This year, the board had used satellite imagery and data collected from the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre in Ludhiana.
Chandigarh: Haryana reported just 319 incidents of paddy stubble burning during the last seven days. According to Haryana, since there has been no case of straw burning in the state since November 30, Delhi has no reason to blame it for the haze enveloping it. On Monday, Haryana asked the Delhi government to introspect and set own its house in order to check the source of smog in the capital.
According to information, 319 cases were reported from various districts of Haryana between November 25 and 27. There has been no fresh incident since then, according to a report released by the Haryana environment department.
Haryana environment minister Vipul Goel said soon after the meeting with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal last month, the state had been quick in its response. “The reports of incidents of stubble burning over the past week are self-explanatory. We can provide the satellite imaging as well to support our stand. Since wheat sowing is in full swing and farmers have already carried out the first round of irrigation, hence there is no scope of stubble burning,” said Goel.
The minister said, “For us, New Delhi is as important as Haryana. We are ready to share responsibilities with the national capital when it comes to fighting out the pollution is concerned. However, Haryana is not to be blamed as we have no incidents for past three days.”
There is no use finding fault with the EVMs now when the party leadership committed a historic blunder with regard to the overall strategy in the elections. First, it should look within to find out reasons that stopped AAP’s march to power,” Chandigarh-based The Tribune quoted Mann as saying.