First Crackers and now Stubble Burning has to lead to ‘severe plus’ pollution in Delhi, forcing the government to shut down schools and construction activities till 5th November.

It is no news to Indians that every year, with the advent of winters around Diwali, the Delhi national capital territory experiences high pollution levels asking people to switch to pollution masks and other measures to save themselves. However, this year, the pollution levels have reached so high that the government has shut down schools till 5th November, Tuesday.

This comes after a declaration has been made by the Supreme Court-mandated panel about a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR region due to the rising level of pollution.

The reason for the rising pollution in the city is not only the burning of crackers that took place during the Diwali festival. The other major factor adding to the severity is the stubble burning taking place in NCR. Stubble burning refers to the practice of burning the straw stubble, which is generally left after the harvesting of crops. These stubbles are burnt to make the field ready for another crop season. The practice takes place every year.

However, with the increasing population in Delhi, the traffic and the number of vehicles have also been increased, consequently resulting in the high vehicular emission already, throughout the year.

However, since the crop season changes with the advent of winters and also Diwali festival being around, in last 10 days, the levels of pollution in Delhi’s Air have increased to cross ‘Severe Plus’ levels on the AQI index.

As a result, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority has banned construction activity in Delhi till November 5th. They have also enforced a restriction on bursting of crackers during the winter season.

Apart from this, a tweet was made by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in Hindi which meant, “In the wake of the rising level of pollution caused by stubble burning, the Delhi government has decided to keep schools shut till November 5.”

In another tweet, Kejriwal briefed that he met EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal and he assured him of all cooperation in implementing the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

“I had an excellent meeting wid Sh Bhure Lal Ji, EPCA chief. I sought guidance from him and assured him the commitment of our Delhi Government in dealing with the pollution. I also assured him all cooperation in implementing GRAP and other measures,” the tweet read.

Bhure Lal had personally written letters to the chief secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Lal in his letter highlighted the severity of the situation, stating “The air quality in Delhi and NCR deteriorated further last night and is now at the severe-plus level. We have to understand that it is a public health emergency and it will have adverse health impacts on all, especially on our children.”

The national capital’s pollution levels crossed severe levels overnight on Thursday, turning the blue sky into a grey blanket of haze on Friday morning.

As per the official figures, the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) at 1 pm on Friday was recorded at 480, which falls in the “severe” category.

If we look at the global Air Quality Index (AQI) standards, then an AQI between 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’.

Delhi’s AQI reached a level beyond 500 pts on Thursday night which falls in the ‘severe-plus emergency’ category.

Kejriwal also tweeted earlier about Delhi turning into a “gas chamber” due to smoke arising out of crop & stubble burning in neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

 He had also made a tweet blaming Manohar Lal Khattar government and Captain Amrinder Singh government, who forced their farmers to indulge in stubble & crop burning activities causing a spike in pollution in the national capital.

While Manohar Lal Khattar is the Chief Minister of Hariyana, Captain Amrinder Singh is the chief minister of Punjab.

Apart from shutting schools down till 5th November, Kejriwal also went on to distribute masks to school students on Friday Morning. This was sought as part of the government’s initiative to protect children from pollution. Kejriwal also took out time to explain stubble burning & its ill-effects to students.

However, things turned little political when he further went on to tell students that that smoke emanating from stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana was causing air pollution here. Not only this, he even asked them to write letters to the respective chief ministers of the two states and request them to control the pollution.

Well, Kejriwal is not the only one who believes that Punjab & Haryana are equally responsible for the pollution of Delhi. Here are some tweets by Twitteratis about the still going on stubble burning and the poor state of pollution in Haryana & Punjab, equally affecting Delhi NCR: