Rampant stubble burning across Haryana and Punjab, despite a court-ordered ban, is adding to Delhi's smog, turning India's capital to a health-wrecking gas chamber.
Delhi is in the grip of a severe air pollution crisis with the city covered in a thick layer of haze and smelling of smoke. The toxic smog has engulfed much of the Delhi-NCR region as it is known to extend beyond Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad.
Typically, the period around Diwali, the festival of lights turned smoky by the bursting of crackers, has been bad for Delhi’s air and its health but the past few years have seen increasing incidents of stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, the predominantly farming states, adding more smoke and pollutants to Delhi’s air.
Delhi: Air quality in ‘Severe’ category in areas around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium and India Gate, according to Central Pollution Control Board pic.twitter.com/Wm7wrgbCWx
— ANI (@ANI) November 1, 2019
Stubble or crop residue burning is rampant in Delhi’s neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab despite a ban imposed in the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab by the National Green Tribunal in 2015.
And this year, it has been particularly bad especially the days immediately after Diwali. In fact, it was so bad the past few days that the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s smog rose to 44 percent on Friday according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences air quality monitor SAFAR.
According to SAFAR “the overall air quality of Delhi continues to be in the SEVERE category and overall Delhi’s PM2.5 touched the highest level of 383ug/m3 today morning which is equal to AQI of 500-plus”.
At 561, the AQI metre took a second turn on the dial!
Want to breathe? ESCAPE DELHI.
— Mahak Agrawal (@mahakagrawal25) November 1, 2019
The numbers indeed are scary; the dull haze and the burning smell even more. Delhi looks like a scene from a war zone with many people wearing masks or covering their faces while commuting or venturing out of their homes.
The city authorities are taking steps to control the local factors but have repeatedly raised their hands in dismay at their neighbours. Rampant stubble burning despite a ban and repeated reminders and requests to the respective state authorities have brought no luck or joy.
Punjab: Stubble burning continues in parts of the state, visuals from Tarn Taran Sahib town. pic.twitter.com/77YkLtLMSH
— ANI (@ANI) November 1, 2019
The fact that crop residue is being burnt even with the result known speaks volumes for the value we put to our lives. A quick gain now resulting in the harm to many is of no consequence to either the farmers or the ban enforcers as local politics and demands clearly override the diktat of even the courts.
The fact that this situation was anticipated, predicted and repeatedly brought to the notice of the state authorities makes for even sorrier reading and horrible sight.
A public health emergency has been announced for Delhi and its surrounding NCR region with schools ordered shut till Nov. 5, all construction activity stopped and bursting of crackers banned during the winter season. Delhi’s government had already announced the version 3.0 of the odd-even traffic plan, limiting the number of vehicles on Delhi’s roads that can ply from Nov 4-15.
Delhi Pollution: Stubble burning sees no end, NASA rolls out shocking images #NASA #DelhiPollution #DelhiChokes #Delhi #delhifightspollution #AirPollution #pollution #PollutionTracker https://t.co/nTDz3aWSb0
— SkymetAQI (@SkymetAQI) October 30, 2019
Yet, no action has been taken on stubble burning, a nearly equal contributor to Delhi’s smog woes. The yearly event has now become a ritual and since even a court-ordered ban has failed, we wonder what more than a smog-ocalypse will trigger some sanity and action to stop this annual ritual from turning Delhi into a health-wrecking gas chamber.