Delhi pol­lu­tion

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - METRO -

Lev­els of PM2.5, com­bus­tion par­ti­cles that are roughly forty times finer than the av­er­age hu­man hair, more than dou­bled in the last cou­ple of days. A key source of PM2.5 at this time of the year is the fires farm­ers in neigh­bour­ing Pun­jab and Haryana light to clear their fields of paddy residue af­ter har­vest­ing their paddy crop.

In the com­ing days, of­fi­cials ex­pect a com­bi­na­tion of three fac­tors to dras­ti­cally worsen the pol­lu­tion: wind speed is likely to re­main low, lo­cal emis­sions are set to in­crease be­cause of the fes­tive rush and pollutants from more farm fires are ex­pected to drift in, said D Saha, for­mer head of CPCB’S air qual­ity lab.

The other ma­jor pol­lu­tant, PM10, also rose to 289.7 mi­cro­grams/cu­bic me­ter – nearly thrice the 100 mi­cro­gram/cu­bic me­ter level that is con­sid­ered safe.

On Thurs­day, the In­dia Metro­log­i­cal Depart­ment (IMD’S) in­formed the CPCB that the wind di­rec­tion will change to north­north­west from Fri­day on­wards, mean­ing that pollutants will start drift­ing into the cap­i­tal from Pun­jab, and even be­yond, from Pak­istan. CPCB of­fi­cials, who met that day, asked the Haryana and Pun­jab gov­ern­ments to en­force the ban against stub­ble burn­ing.

The CPCB has said that from Mon­day on, re­stric­tions pro­posed in the so-called Graded Ac­tion Plan (Grap) will be in force. A ban on con­struc­tion and open burn­ing, along with the odd-even road ra­tioning scheme, may be en­forced un­der Grap if pol­lu­tion lev­els reach alarm­ing lev­els.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of farm­ers unions have re­peat­edly ex­pressed help­less­ness in com­bat­ing the prob­lem of crop residue burn­ing, which they say is a cheap and quick method of dis­pos­ing paddy stub­ble for those who have been un­able to af­ford mod­ern ma­chines to clear their farms.

“Burn­ing stub­ble is our last re­sort. We know it harms our fam­i­lies first since we re­side near our farms. It de­stroys mi­cronu­tri­ents (from the soil), and we have to put up with all sorts of threats from the state govern­ment that files po­lice cases and im­poses hefty fines,” said Chamkaur Singh Nainewal, a farm­ers leader, dur­ing a rally in Bar­nala on Satur­day.

The rally was held by farm­ers to urge the govern­ment to do more to man­age crop residue.

While an­nounc­ing Grap, the CPCB had said that the air qual­ity may de­te­ri­o­rate to ‘very poor’ later this month.

From next week, the mea­sures to com­bat pol­lu­tion in­clude a pos­si­ble hike in park­ing fees to dis­suade peo­ple from us­ing pri­vate cars, and a ban on the use of diesel gen­er­a­tors.

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