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Delhi: Environment Minister Gopal Rai urges NCR states to ban firecrackers ahead of Diwali

The minister said that during Dussehra, which was celebrated on Tuesday, there were lesser bursting of firecrackers and if the same continued for Diwali then it will have a better impact on pollution levels in Delhi.

By Newsd
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While Delhi on Monday showed a marginal improvement in its overall air quality, Environment Minister Gopal Rai urged the states in the National Capital Area to ban firecrackers ahead of the upcoming Diwali keeping in view the measures put in place in the city to tackle pollution. The minister said that during Dussehra, which was celebrated on Tuesday, there were lesser bursting of firecrackers and if the same continued for Diwali then it will have a better impact on pollution levels in Delhi.

“I think that comparatively, firecrackers were burst at lesser number of locations this time (during Dussehra). I would like to once again request the states in Delhi-NCR to ban (firecrackers) because it is easily available to people in their states. I think if NCR states ban it too, this will have a better impact on Delhi,” Gopal Rai said. The NCR encompasses Delhi and several districts surrounding it from the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The overall air quality in the national capital on Wednesday morning was recorded in the ‘moderate’ category, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) at 190, as per SAFAR-India. On the improvement, the Environment Minister said, “Two days back, the AQI level in Delhi was above 300. A decrease in the AQI level has been recorded and it has come below 300. I think that in the days to come, this will keep fluctuating. It is being estimated that after October 30 this will perhaps go up again.”

As per the latest data from the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the air quality around Delhi University was recorded at 273 (poor) in the morning hours, while the IIT area in New Delhi was at 173 and that in Lodhi Road was recorded at 149 which falls in the ‘moderate’ category. According to the data, the AQI stood above 300 in at least 13 pollution hotspots in Delhi on Tuesday.

Further speaking on stubble burning, Gopal Rai said, “Stubble burning is going on but the number of such cases is low as of now. But it is being estimated that these cases will increase around October 30. It is to be seen what kind of impact the measures taken up in Punjab have.” As stubble burning continues in parts of Punjab and Haryana, air quality in the national capital has worsened in the past few days. According to data, over 2,500 cases of stubble burning have been reported this year so far. However, farm fire numbers are better than those of the previous two years.

The second phase of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was implemented in Delhi to reduce the effect of increased pollution. The Commission for Air Quality Management sub-committee on Saturday decided to invoke the 11-point action plan as per Stage-II of revised GRAP in the entire National Capital Region.

As per a government release issued by the Ministry of Environment, under GRAP-2 restrictions in Delhi NCR, there is a ban on the use of coal and wood-fired stoves, the frequency of CNG and electric buses will be increased, regular cleaning of roads and a sprinkling of water on them to be done, traffic police personnel to ensure there are no traffic jams so that pollution can be controlled. Agencies responsible for implementing measures under GRAP including Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) of NCR States and DPCC have been addressed to ensure successful and strict implementation of actions under Stage-II of GRAP in addition to actions under Stage-I of GRAP during this period, the statement read.

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