WHILE PUNJAB and Haryana are being blamed for Delhi’s deteriorating air quality as thick smog has engulfed the National Capital, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) Chairman Manpreet Chatwal categorically told The Indian Express, “Punjab should not be blamed for Delhi’s air quality as here the respirable suspended particle matter (RSPM) is within the permissible limit and, this year, Diwali air pollution was also under control. And hence, we have data ready with us to support that Punjab is not responsible for Delhi’s air pollution.”
He added, “Every year, we present our data before Union Ministry of Environment and we will be doing the same this year as well. We have convinced them in the past and I am hopeful of being able to make our point even this year as well.”
The PPCB Chairman reasoned, “How come all of a sudden a day after Diwali, air pollution in Delhi has increased so much. The capital should have witnessed it earlier as well. No doubt air pollution is a serious matter and it needs to be dealt with a strong hand so as to have clean air. However, the northern states are not 100% responsible for it.”
It needs to be mentioned that stubble burning by the farmers of Punjab and Haryana this year has led to the spreading of poisonous fumes in the air, thus causing breathing disorders in Punjab as well. But, when asked about the thick smog cover over Punjab, the PPCB chairman said, “It is because of the advent of winter that dust particles, when mixed with water, form a thick layer and hence one can see smog in select areas.”
The chairman, however, stated that over 600 challans had been issued for stubble burning across the state resulting in the department collecting fines of over Rs 5 lakh from the violating farmers. Incidentally, the department has not been that strict this year because of the Assembly election next year and, at many places, PPCB teams have been turned away by farmers with the argument that they have no choice but to burn the fields.