Centre's claim of farm fires contributing only 10 per cent of Delhi pollution doesn't make sense: Gopal Rai
Environment Minister Gopal Rai said pollution in Delhi is related to the airshed involving NCR areas and the city government has repeatedly called for a joint action plan to address the problem.
NEW DELHI: Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Monday sought to know the source of the Centre's data that stubble burning "now accounts for only 10 per cent" of the city's PM2.5 pollution and said its share rose to a high of 48 per cent in the last 10 days.
Rai also said a joint action plan is the solution to the problem of air pollution and that the city government will emphasize this point in the meeting of Centre and NCR states on Tuesday.
"The timing is an important factor. If we consider the share of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution in October, it may not be even 4 per cent because an extended monsoon season delayed paddy harvesting," he said.
Delhi's air in October this year was the cleanest in five years.
But the main point is that pollution levels have increased alarmingly after Diwali, Rai said.
"According to SAFAR, the share of stubble burning in Delhi's PM2.5 pollution rose to a high of 48 per cent in the last 10 days. This is central government data which is available in the public domain. Only the Centre will be able to specify the source of the data that stubble burning accounts for only 10 per cent (of Delhi's pollution)....It does not make sense," he said.
Earlier in the day, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court that "stubble burning now is not a major contributor to the pollution, as of now it's 10 per cent".
The share of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution stood at 10 per cent on Monday, the lowest since Diwali (November 4).
On an average, farm fires have accounted for around 25 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution in Delhi from November 1 to November 15, according to the data from SAFAR -- the air quality forecasting agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
The share of farm fires in Delhi's pollution had increased to 48 per cent on November 7, the highest since November 5, 2018, when it was recorded at 58 per cent.
According to an analysis by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), people in the national capital breathe the worst air between November 1 and November 15 every year, as unhelpful meteorological conditions trap pollutants from local sources and stubble burning in neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.
Rai said pollution in Delhi is related to the airshed involving NCR areas and the city government has repeatedly called for a joint action plan to address the problem.
"A joint action plan is the solution to this problem. Everyone should move together in this direction. We will emphasize this point in the meeting of Centre and NCR states on Tuesday," he said.
The apex court has directed the Centre to call an emergency meeting and decide by Tuesday evening on measures like stopping non-essential constructions, transport, power plants and implement work from home to deal with the air pollution situation in the NCR.
The minister said the Delhi government is willing to take more steps to resolve the issue.
"We have been making efforts on our end to reduce our share of pollution. We are ready to do more and take more new steps. We are ready to implement the suggestions of the Supreme Court and experts, if any," he said.
Rai also held a meeting with officials of the Delhi Metro and Delhi Transport Corporation to discuss ways to increase the carrying capacity of the capital's public transport system.
"DMRC and DTC have been asked to prepare a plan in this regard within two days," the minister said.