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The national capital's Air Quality Index (AQI) continued to remain in the “severe" category on Saturday, with emissions from stubble burning contributing to 36% of the pollution, as per data from Centre-run SAFAR.

In the last 24 hours, the PM2.5 level is higher as compared to 2020 but much less than that in 2018. While stubble burning is expected to remain almost the same during the day, relief is likely from 7 November. 

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has also said that higher wind speeds that have picked up since the morning are likely to clear out pollutants in the air over the next two days.

According to SAFAR, without any more firecracker emissions, AQI is likely to improve to the 'very poor' category by tonight.

The city's AQI stood at 449 in the severe category at 8 am on Saturday. It was 462 on Friday.

In 2020, the stubble burning in Delhi's pollution had peaked at 42% on this day. In 2019, on 1 November it amounted to 44% of Delhi's PM2.5 pollution.

“If the government was actually making an effort the air quality would not have turned this bad. Stubble burning is an important contributor to pollution. We need to find a sustainable solution to stubble burning," Vimlendu Jha, an environmental activist, was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

He said that people need to understand why farmers are resorting to stubble burning.

"Because before it reaches Delhi, the farmers of UP, Haryana, Punjab are perhaps more affected. The government has to look into how to bring all the stakeholders together, agricultural reforms and extremely critical," Jha said.

"Penalising farmers will not help we need to address the root cause of stubble burning. We need to see for measures such as can there be crop rotation? Can there be other incentives? It is not about blaming the Central Government or states govt but all need to be collectively blamed because despite SC's order it's happening. The situation is unfortunate," Jha added.

Jha informed that air pollution kills 15 lakh people every year.

Worst AQI in five years 

The national capital saw the average 24-hour AQI on Friday resting at 462, the worst in five years the day after Diwali.

The 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) the day after Diwali was 435 last year, 368 in 2019; 390 in 2018; 403 in 2017 and 445 in 2016. The AQI was 382 on Diwali day this year, 414 in 2020; 337 in 2019; 281 in 2018; 319 in 2017 and 431 in 2016.

The neighbouring cities of Faridabad (469), Greater Noida (464), Ghaziabad (470), Gurgaon (472) and Noida (475) also recorded 'severe' air pollution levels.

This comes even as state environment minister Gopal Rai said that pollution in Delhi in 2021 is lesser than the previous year. Meanwhile, residents in many parts of the city complained of an itchy throat and watery eyes.

With inputs from agencies. 

 

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