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Thursday 20 February 2020

Air pollution spiked several times during stubble-burning: Kejriwal

Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today again blamed stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana for deteriorating air quality in Delhi and said the solution to the problem lies in addressing the issue in the neighbouring states.

He, however, acknowledged that Delhi also contributes to pollution, but the presence of toxic particles in the air spikes several times during October and November, when farmers in Punjab and Haryana burn crop residue.

On an average, Kejriwal said, PM2.5 level remains at 100 microgrammes per cubic metres and PM10 at 300 in Delhi.

“These two parameters should be less than 100. But, between 28th October and 12th November stubble-burning is done in Haryana and Punjab. And in those 15 days, the PM2.5 level reached 750 and PM10 900,” he said.

This was also the time when the air quality level plunged to alarming levels in Delhi-NCR.

The pollution level increased due to stubble-burning and a solution to this will come from the two states, he said.

On the criticism his government faced in dealing with air pollution, Kejriwal said: “If the pollution level goes down by badmouthing me, I say all two crore Delhiities should do that.

We have to reduce our share of pollution, which we are doing.”

Referring to his meeting with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on the matter earlier this month, Kejriwal said the neighbouring state has been taking steps to address the issue.

Both Haryana and Punjab have asked for Rs 1,600 crore and Rs 3,000 crore respectively from the Centre to address stubble-burning using technology.

He also said that the Delhi government was in the process of procuring 2,000 buses to improve the public transport system.

Earlier this month, when pollution breached emergency levels, the Delhi government had decided to ration private vehicles on roads based on their number plates – odd and even – but had to call it off at the last moment after the National Green Tribunal refused to grant exemption for women, two- wheelers and government servants.

The NGT had ruled that only emergency vehicles will be exempted during the time the “odd-even” scheme was implemented.

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