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Sunday 7 June 2020

Kejriwal, TOI, please clarify what’s polluting Delhi: Stubble smoke or Diwali crackers?

The Delhi chief minister, as well as the largest circulated daily, had appealed to people to not celebrate Diwali by bursting crackers; then they claimed the sky was indeed clearer as people had paid heed to their appeal, but they complained within hours Delhi was polluted and blamed crop stubble burning by farmers of Punjab and Haryana for it

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On Tuesday, the government of Delhi shared an image of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) showing that crop stubble burning has increased drastically in Punjab and Haryana in the last 24 hours. According to the office of Environment Minister Kailash Ghalot in Delhi, “The latest NASA photos prove that hay burning has increased in Punjab and Haryana in the last 24 hours.” Interestingly, Gahlot is a part of the Arvind Kejriwal government that had blamed Diwali crackers for pollution in Delhi a on 12 October.

“We are going to take many steps,” Kejriwal had said, adding that people should not burn crackers during Diwali. The government will organise Diwali, he said, adding an appeal: “Come to Connaught Place with family on 26 October; laser shows will be organised.”

The latest statement from the Kejriwal government, however, says that the impact of burning post-harvest crop residue or stubble in Punjab and Haryana on Delhi is being studied. The statement says further that even after a clear Diwali night, Delhi was polluted this year due to stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana!

Recent photos of NASA show Delhi’s wind is being heavily polluted by a hay hail from the neighbouring states emanating from crop stubble fire. “The air pollutants are arriving in the capital city from its northwest border. And the impact is on Delhi,” the statement said.

The entire section of the media that actively advocates firecracker-free observation of Diwali conceded yesterday that this was among the ‘cleanest’ episodes of Diwali due to a near-absence of crackers in Delhi. At the same time, a day later they reported a high rate of pollution in the city without caring to admit their Diwali-time excited advocacy for a lacklustre Diwali is misplaced.

The Times of India: One newspaper, two reports that cannot be true at the same time

Within a span of three hours, The Times of India, for example, published two reports, “With quietest Diwali in 15 years, Mumbai sends out loud message” and “Blame for a quarter of Delhi’s bad air now at neighbours’ doorstep”. In the first report of Tuesday, it said, “The city of Mumbai just celebrated its quietest Diwali in 15 years, perhaps indicating rising awareness against the use of noisy firecrackers.”

In the second report, the TOI wrote, “On Tuesday, the dark plume coming from Delhi’s north-west became a significant factor in the deteriorating air quality. The contribution of crop burning emission in the city’s PM2.5 pollution rose to 25% on the day. The prognosis is that this would rise to an even higher 29% by Wednesday.”

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