Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said smoke from the burning of stubble in neighbouring states was resulting in "severe" pollution in the national capital and hoped that all agencies and institutions, including the Supreme Court and the NGT, will take concrete steps to eradicate the problem.
Researchers from Harvard University and NASA had last year found that agricultural fires were responsible for about half of the pollution experienced in Delhi in October and November, a peak stubble burning season in Punjab and Haryana.
"Pollution in the city reduced by 25 per cent in the earlier part of the year. But the burning of stubble in neighbouring states in October and November is resulting in severe pollution. The smoke has started affecting Delhi's air quality. We have been taking every possible step to check it," Kejriwal tweeted.
In another tweet, he hoped that all agencies and institutions, including the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal, the Centre and the Haryana and the Punjab governments, will take concrete steps to completely eradicate the problem.
According to the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the city's air quality remained "poor" on Friday and is likely to slip into the "very poor" category by Sunday.
"The biomass fire counts in Punjab and Haryana have increased significantly over the past 24 hours. Such magnitude will now start influencing Delhi's air quality index," it said.
With an AQI of 211, Delhi recorded "poor" air quality for the first time this season on Thursday.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'.
Though stubble burning is banned in Punjab and Haryana, farmers continue to defy the ban amid a lack of financial incentives.
The state governments are providing 50 to 80 per cent subsidy to farmers and cooperative societies to buy modern farm equipment for in-situ management of paddy straw and running a massive awareness campaign against stubble burning.
The administration in the two states continues to issue 'challans' to erring farmers under the 2015 order of the National Green Tribunal.