The Delhi government on Thursday flagged crop burning in Punjab and Haryana as one of the major factors contributing to the rising air pollution in the national capital and said it peaks during the night hours due to low wind speed in comparison to day time. In view of this, the AAP government has appealed to the Centre to stop crop burning in the neighbouring states besides regulating construction sites and launching a crackdown on polluting industrial units in NCR.
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A task force headed by Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Thursday held a meeting with scientists of the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to deal with the situation. Jain said scientists advised the government to stress upon a unified action plan for the entire NCR for its anti-pollution efforts to succeed.
The minister admitted that the situation is “worst”, but said scientists have advised government that there is no need of shutting down city’s schools as pollution is only at peak during night hours.
“In the meeting, crop burning in neighbouring states, including Punjab and Haryana, was flagged as one of the major factors contributing to the rising air pollution. In comparison to day time, there is two-fold increase in pollution during night hours. Wind speed is almost half of that during the day. At night, wind speed is 2 or 3 km per hour that’s why pollution is rising the most in that period,” Jain told reporters after the meeting.
He said this is the transition time of weather from monsoon to winter season and during this period, there is some problem every year. The government has also requested the Centre to put restrictions on plying of diesel taxis/autos in NCR, particularly on entry points of Delhi.
There should be strict enforcement of guidelines to prohibit entry of overloaded and polluting transit trucks into Delhi. Jain said all options discussed in today’s meeting will be placed before Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. He asked the stakeholders not to pay any heed to rumours of schools being closed temporarily since the scientific data shows peak of pollution during nights and not during schools hours.
Earlier in the day, Delhi Chief Secretary K K Sharma held a meeting with the departments concerned to tackle air
pollution following orders by the National Green Tribunal.
Meanwhile, Environment Minister Imran Hussain wrote a letter to Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave requesting strict action against crop burning in Punjab and Haryana. On Friday, the Delhi government will raise the issue in a high-level meeting called by the Union Environment Ministry.
The national capital has been under a thick cover of pollutant-laden smog, forcing the residents to inhale ‘severe’ quality air.