With the festival of Diwali just around the corner, Delhi's air quality is once again a cause for concern among its residents. Despite efforts to curb the pollution, the national capital continues to grapple with "poor" to "very poor" air quality, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). On Saturday morning, the average Air Quality Index (AQI) for Delhi stood at 286.
Several areas in Delhi experienced "very poor" air quality levels. Anand Vihar reported an AQI of 357, Bawana recorded an AQI of 328, Dwarka's AQI was at 325, and Burari Crossing reported an AQI of 333. In nearby Noida, Uttar Pradesh, the air quality was deemed "poor" with an AQI of 255, while Gurugram registered a "moderate" AQI of 200.
Monitoring agencies have issued warnings of deteriorating air quality over the coming weekend, primarily due to unfavorable meteorological conditions. Earlier on Friday, Delhi's air quality remained "poor," with an AQI of 256.
The issue of stubble burning, a major contributor to air pollution in the region, is at the center of a political dispute between the states of Punjab and Haryana. On Friday, the Punjab government claimed that they had made significant progress in reducing stubble burning incidents. They emphasized the timely distribution and utilization of machines and efforts to maximize the utilization of stubble in various industries.
In response, the Haryana government released satellite images purportedly from NASA, showing a higher incidence of stubble burning in Punjab compared to Haryana on October 25 and 26. Jawahar Yadav, the OSD (Officer on Special Duty) of Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, pointed to the NASA data and questioned the silence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal regarding the findings. He stated, "More than double stubble burning has occurred in Punjab as compared to Haryana. The Punjab government has failed, and Arvind Kejriwal's face has been exposed in front of the public."
In response to the ongoing blame game, leaders from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) voiced their concerns. Daljit Singh Cheema, a senior SAD leader, emphasized the need for adequate machinery and financial support to farmers, stating that big pro-farmer announcements have not translated into meaningful action.
Bikram Singh Majithia, another prominent SAD leader, shifted focus to other pollution sources, saying, "Only a very small percentage is due to farmers, the rest is due to construction, industrial, and vehicular pollution. They are cheating the farmers of Punjab."
As the region grapples with both the impending festival of Diwali and the persistent air quality challenges, the need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach to combat air pollution becomes increasingly evident. The situation calls for coordinated efforts by all stakeholders, including government agencies, to protect the health and well-being of the residents in the national capital and surrounding areas.
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