Delhi: With harvesting season set to begin soon, the Union Environment Ministry has asked the northern states to tackle stubble burning, in wake of the toxic smog that engulfs the Capital every year.

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan held a meeting of the Environment Ministers and senior officers of five States of Delhi-NCR including Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and reviewed measures being taken by the states.

Highlighting the need to ensure better preparedness towards improving Delhi’s air quality, the Environment Minister said the Centre has provided a grant of 1,150 crores from Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) to tackle stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The NCR states were directed to ensure that distribution of farm implements to tackle stubble burning should be completed within the next 10 days and highlighted financial incentive for in-situ crop residue management by farmers.

While reviewing various steps taken in comparison to previous years, the officials stated that number of Good, Satisfactory and Moderate days have increased from 144 in 2017 to 149 in 2018, while the number of Poor, Very Poor and Severe days decreased from 125 in 2017 to 120 in 2018 till date.

As many as 41 teams have also been deployed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) across Delhi-NCR for ground-level inspection of activities that cause pollution. The Board also issued directions to the concerned State pollution control board, transport and agricultural departments to prepare targeted action plan for air polluting sources.

The officials also deliberated upon expansion of ambient air quality monitoring network in NCR States, which could help in gathering more to facilitate better air quality management decisions. A total of three mitigation pilot projects have also been sanctioned for deployment in Delhi.

“Enhanced enforcement and prompt action must be ensured to create a positive impact on air quality," said the Minister, adding that restriction on the use of petcoke and furnace oil in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and issuance of list of approved fuels permissible for use within the borders of NCT of Delhi would have positive impact on air quality this year.

He added that the government has also provided financial assistance under Urban Development Fund (UDF) to Delhi for procurement of mechanical road sweeping machines, water sprinklers and greening.