New Delhi: Taking our air pollution masks before winter clothing has become a sort of a yearly routine for residents of Delhi and adjoining areas. And this year is not expected to be any different. With the paddy stubble burning season all set to start as well as weather conditions that could bring in dust storms, the air quality this October could well be as alarming as ever.
Delhi's air quality nosedives each year before and through the winter months and despite meetings and plans galore, the apocalyptic skyline has refused to give way to proverbial rays of respite. One of the key reasons identified for the toxic air is farmers in neighbouring Haryana and Punjab burning paddy stubble. NASA satellite imagery has time and again shown fire centers across the two states which - helped by wind conditions - bring a polluted haze over Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
Last year, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal met Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar in order to address the problem. His request for a meeting with Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh was turned down. In the murky lanes of political slugfest, environmentalists say effective measures have largely been lost.
And once again this year, burning of paddy stubble is expected to make its effects felt with ground reports suggesting farmers in Haryana and Punjab not too keen with the compensation for 'not lighting up.' In fact, Captain Amarinder Singh has written several times to PM Narendra Modi to get Centre to announce an adequate compensation. An announcement, if any, is awaited. In addition, there are reports that state government incentives announced could be ignored by farmers due to procedural complications.
As if burning paddy stubble was not enough to choke Delhi, there is also a dust storm brewing which could plunge the capital into a distressing haze. The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has reportedly warned of dust-laden winds from Iran and Pakistan approaching north India which could significantly impact the quality of air.
With these natural as well as man-made causes, residents of Delhi and NCR once again stare at a health hazard.