Farm fire share in Delhi's pollution 40 pc, but Oppn in denial: Gopal Rai

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New Delhi, Nov 2 (PTI) Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Monday targeted the BJP and the Congress on the issue of stubble burning, saying the share of farm fires in Delhi's pollution has soared to 40 per cent but the opposition parties are in denial.

According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor, SAFAR, the share of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution rose to 40 per cent on Sunday, the maximum so far this season.

It was 32 per cent on Saturday, 19 per cent on Friday and 36 per cent on Thursday, the second highest this season so far.

'We have been saying it again and again that stubble burning is a major reason behind severe levels of pollution in Delhi around Diwali, but the BJP and the Congress say the share of farm fires in Delhi's pollution was just 4 to 6 per cent, whereas statistics show it has increased to 40 per cent,' Rai told reporters during the launch of 'Red Light On, Gaadi Off' campaign in all 272 wards of Delhi to curb vehicular pollution.

He said the Delhi government has been doing everything possible to curb biomass burning, and vehicular and dust pollution, 'but what should we do about stubble burning?' Last year, the stubble contribution to Delhi's pollution had peaked to 44 per cent on November 1, according to SAFAR data.

NASA's satellite imagery showed a large, dense cluster of fire dots covering Punjab and parts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Rai said air pollution combined with the COVID-19 pandemic can be 'catastrophic' and strict action on the ground was more important than creating new commissions The Centre introduced a new law recently through an ordinance that put in place a powerful Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas to curb air pollution.

On the Rajasthan government banning bursting of firecrackers, the minister said, 'Pollution is defined by the air shed. There is a need for collective action. In Delhi, it was repeatedly being said that the rising pollution level is due to stubble burning in neighbouring states, and the response we received from the central government and states was that there is no alternative to stubble burning.' In Delhi, the administration sprayed the bio decomposer developed by Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, in non-Basmati rice fields to prevent stubble burning.

'The preliminary reports have been extremely positive. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will ascertain the ground reality at Hiranki village on November 4,' he said.

'We want to tell the states and the central government that there is no cheaper alternative than this (bio decomposer). We request them to physically witness the bio decomposer at work,' he added. PTI GVS SNE