Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday ridiculed the claim of his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal that the stubble burning in Punjab was solely responsible for the high levels of pollution in the national capital.
In a statement issued, Captain Amarinder came out with a series of facts to rubbish Kejriwal’s statement, which he claimed as yet another attempt by the Delhi Chief Minister to divert public attention for his own government’s abysmal failure. “Having failed to deliver on governance to the people of Delhi, Kejriwal was, as usual, trying to take refuge in falsehoods and fabrications,” said Amarinder.
Taking a dig at Kejriwal for his preposterous logic that the satellite pictures of stubble burning in Punjab was proof of it being the primary cause of the Delhi’s severe pollution, Captain Amarinder said, “even a school kid would know better, can he (Kejriwal) really be an IIT graduate?” asked the Punjab Chief Minister.
Terming Kejriwal’s claim illogical, Captain Amarinder shared certain figures, and warned that “the people of Punjab would not take politely to the AAP leader’s attempts to pin the blame for his own failures on their state. He will see in the Lok Sabha elections what Punjab thinks of him and his AAP,” said the Chief Minister.
Captain Amarinder pointed out that the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi remains more than 300+ even during December and January every year, when there is no stubble burning in the neighboring States. This clearly indicates that the New Delhi environment is impacted by its own sources within Delhi, which are predominantly vehicular emission, construction activities, industrial activities, power plants, burning of Municipal Solid Waste and sweeping activities, he added.
Further, Captain Amarinder said that as per the latest report of air pollution forecast by Weather Research and Forecasting Model of the India Meteorological Department, winds over Delhi-NCR had changed from north-westerly to easterly, so there was hardly any influence from crop fires in Punjab and Haryana. Yet, Delhi’s air quality continued to be “very Poor”, with an average PM 2.5 concentrations of 208 micrograms per cubic meters on 2nd November, which was caused mainly from local vehicular and industrial emissions.
What is more, the increase in the concentration of PM 2.5 due to stubble burning is proportionately less as compare to PM 10. Thus, the contribution of stubble fire in the increase of PM 2.5 is less, whereas, the Ambient Air Quality in Delhi witnesses an increase in the PM 2.5 during the winter months, observed Captain Amarinder.
Due to decrease in the temperature and wind velocity, the pollutants in the atmosphere are unable to disperse, which is the major cause of increase in the AQI at most places in north India. In particular, New Delhi AQI crosses the 400 mark due to high emissions from activities of a large population in a confined area of NCR and inversion phenomenon of the climate. During October 2018, the wind velocity became static and decreased to less than 2 KM/hr, Captain Amarinder further pointed out, referring to available scientific data.
Captain Amarinder asserted that had stubble burning been the reason for Ambient Air Quality deterioration then it should have impacted the air quality index of the cities of Punjab in the first place. However, it had been observed that the average AQI of Punjab during October, 2018 was 117, while the average AQI of Delhi hovered around 270. Most of the cities in Punjab have witness clear climate with long distance visibility, in sharp contrast to Delhi, he added.
As far as stubble burning incidents was concerned, he said that the number of such cases till 3rd November was 25394, against 30832 reported last year – clearly showing a decreasing trend. The number of fire incidents per lakh acres of area under paddy plantation is 390, which is very nominal. In fact, the number of fire incidents per village is less than 2 (considering the number of villages in Punjab is 12700), said Captain Amarinder, adding that the State had been able to persuade 98% farmers not to practice the stubble burning.
The data clearly indicated that Kejriwal’s government in Delhi had failed completely in addressing the problem of pollution in the national capital, said Captain Amarinder, adding that the Delhi Chief Minister was, quite obviously, hunting for scapegoats to put the blame for his own failures.