New Delhi, November 2
The air quality in Delhi continued to remain in the “very poor” category as the 24-hour Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 376. The situation was equally bad in other NCR cities with AQI of Noida slipping to 339 and that of Gurugram to 310. An AQI of more than 400 is considered “severe” and can affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing illnesses.
Editorial: Delhi’s toxic air
The Delhi Government has advised people to work from home and use shared transport to reduce vehicular emissions, a major contributor to air pollution in the Capital.
“We are following the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) and accordingly banned all construction work, barring some essential projects,” said Environment Minister Gopal Rai. CM Arvind Kejriwal has announced Rs 5,000 per month financial aid to labourers hit by the ban on construction work.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights asked the Delhi Government to shut schools till air quality improves. Rai said the request would be forwarded to the Commission for Air Quality Management, which would take a call on the matter.
Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav blamed the AAP government for turning the Capital into a “gas chamber”. Yadav said, “Punjab witnessed over 19 per cent rise in farm fires over 2021, while Haryana saw a 30.6 per cent decline. There were 3,634 incidents in Punjab on Wednesday alone.”
Rai attacked the BJP, saying it was politicising the issue of air pollution. “The BJP favoured polluting activities — opposed the ban on firecrackers, stopped the implementation of ‘red light on, gaadi off’ campaign and is violating the ban on polluting activities. It is now playing politics over the issue,” Rai alleged.
Meanwhile, forecasters said the air quality in Delhi was likely to slip back into the “severe” category on Thursday and Friday due to the impact of stubble-burning. However, the situation was predicted to improve on Saturday on the back of strong surface-level wind speed.
“The Centre gave Rs 1,347 crore for crop residue management machines to Punjab. The state bought 1,20,000 machines. Of these, 11,275 have gone missing,” Yadav said in a series of tweets.
“Last year, Rs 212 crore were left unspent. This year, the Centre gave another Rs 280 crore. With Rs 492 crore still available, the Punjab Government chose to sit on the funds, forcing farmers to burn the straw,” he added.