Attacking the “guessing games” being played over Delhi’s air quality, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Wednesday said source apportionment of pollution has not been done by agencies which are claiming that impact of stubble burning on the city’s air quality is less. Speaking at the party headquarters, Kejriwal said local pollution sources were the same as before, and that air quality had been between ‘good’ and ‘moderate’ since the last 7-8 months.
He said the sudden spike in pollution is a result of smoke released from crop stubble burning, which is underway in parts of north west India, mainly Punjab and Haryana. “No additional population has suddenly settled in Delhi, no sudden inflow of vehicles has taken place and no new dust sources have come up in the last seven days. How could local sources have contributed to the sudden spike in pollution?”
The CM said agencies claiming that stubble burning has only a little impact on the city’s air quality should “behave more responsibly” about the figures they share.
The Chief Minister’s statement comes a day after Sunita Narain, member of the Supreme Court-appointed EPCA, reportedly claimed that local sources in Delhi account for 90% of pollution in the capital.
Narain, when contacted, told The Indian Express: “I used data from SAFAR… I have no reason to dispute their…assessment of biomass contribution in the region.”
The government’s air quality monitoring system SAFAR has recorded that external biomass burning contributed 2% to Delhi’s air quality Saturday and 9% Sunday, the highest till date.
Kejriwal said sources of pollution can only be measured using real-time source apportionment, and added that the government has been trying to import specific machinery to this end.
“None of the agencies that are claiming figures on the stubble burning component of air pollution have this machinery. If they are claiming that stubble burning is causing 10% of air pollution, they should also be able to tell us the source of the rest of the composition of pollution,” he said.
Delhi’s air quality moved into ‘very poor’ category Wednesday for the first time this season. The average AQI calculated by the CPCB for Delhi was 304, up by 34 points since Tuesday.
Air pollution in the city has been on the rise since Thursday when it moved into the ‘poor’ category with 211 AQI. It improved slightly on Monday but started dipping again from Tuesday.
SAFAR predicted Wednesday that Delhi’s air quality is likely to remain in the ‘very poor’ category for the next two days. It also showed that contribution of PM2.5 from farm fires to the city’s air was 5% Wednesday and is expected to increase to 7% Friday.
“The surface winds continue to be slow and variable with predominant direction from southeast. Hence the dominant factor for the increase at this stage is changing local weather conditions rather than external intrusion,” SAFAR said.