Thatch’s contribution to Delhi’s air pollution has now risen to 36% – the highest this season so far – as the skies over the nation’s capital turned yellow and hazy.
According to data shared by the Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research System, SAFAR, the contribution of farm fires to air pollution in Delhi has doubled in one day.
It fell from 18% on Wednesday to 36% today, as NASA satellite images showed a large and dense cluster of fires that covered most parts of Punjab and parts of Haryana, indicating little relief from toxic air in the days to come.
This, combined with local factors, pushed Delhi’s air close to the ‘severe’ category (375) as the pollution index readings at the majority of the city’s monitoring stations crossed the 400 mark. .
For weeks there has been an intense political debate over the contribution of farm fires to Delhi’s annual air pollution problem.
While the BJP initially dismissed the role of farm fires, accusing local mailmen of making the city and its surroundings a gas chamber, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stressed that “denial is n ‘ will not help “.
The Delhi government has accused the Center of “inaction” throughout the year and of not expressing concern until the harvest season approaches. “It affects all of northern India,” Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.
He had also pushed the Supreme Court-appointed Environmental Pollution Control Authority to order the Center and the governments of neighboring states to act.
That panel was suspended by the high court today after the central government issued an ordinance, or decree, for the formation of a standing committee to deal with the annual problem.
Winter air pollution – seen as a mix of local factors and stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan – has been a matter of great concern this year, experts saying not only lead to a peak in cases of coronavirus, but add to the severity of symptoms.
Delhi is seeing an increase in the number of daily Covid cases, which crossed the 5,000 mark for the first time since the January epidemic, fueling speculation whether the city-state would experience a third wave of infections.