LUCKNOW: A BJP leader in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday advised the government to perform yajnas to please rain god Lord Indra as many parts of northern India have been battling high pollution levels due to stubble burning and bursting of crackers on Diwali.
Sunil Bharala, the chairman of the state Labour Welfare Council, said stubble burning is an "age-old practice".
A Supreme Court-mandated panel on Friday declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-National Capital Region and banned construction activity till November 5 as pollution levels have entered the "severe plus" category.
According to official figures, the pollution levels in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Patna in Bihar were worse than in Delhi on Saturday.
He said, "The government should perform yajnas to please Lord Indra. He will set everything right".
Barla said sprinkling water by helicopters will not end pollution, rather "we must seek divine intervention".
To back his argument, Bharala said, "It was around 1991-92 when there were no rains in Meerut and nearby areas, a community yajna of 40-50 villages was held and as soon as it was over, rains started".
He said holding farmers responsible for the spike in pollution levels was "unfortunate".
"Stubble burning has always been done, since those items burnt are waste material. It is a natural system practised by farmers. The attack on farmers over this is very unfortunate," he said.
Responding to those who were questioning the scientificity of his statement, Bharala said, "It is their thought and way of thinking. They do not follow the Hindu dharam and its culture. They do not believe in scientific ways nor do they believe in yajnas."
Thirteen cities of the country had an average Air Quality Index (AQI) above 400, which falls in "severe" category, with seven of them in Uttar Pradesh, five in Haryana and one in Bihar, according to the Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) Saturday 4-pm bulletin.
According to the bulletin, the average AQI in Delhi was 399.
During the same period, Fatehabad recorded the worst average AQI at 493, while it was 428 in Patna and 422 in Lucknow.
In Uttar Pradesh, Ghaziabad had the worst average AQI of 453, followed by Bulandshahr (446), Hapur (444), Greater Noida (438), Baghpat (435), Noida (432), Lucknow (422), Kanpur (379), Meerut (371) and Varanasi (328), the CPCB data showed.