'Red light on, gaadi off', urges Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal as air quality dips to very poor

Malini T
·3-min read

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday launched a campaign to tackle air pollution in the national capital and urged people to switch off the engines of their vehicles while waiting at traffic signals.

Addressing an online media briefing, the chief minister said that there are one crore vehicles registered in the city.

If 30-40 lakh vehicles come on the road everyday and keep idling at traffic signals, it increases air pollution levels in the city, Kejriwal said.

NEW DELHI, INDIA - OCTOBER 14: Pollution and smog at Tilak Marg on October 14, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Air quality in capital deteriorated as the burning of crop waste in fields sent smoke billowing across the north of the country. A smoggy haze settled over the city, reducing visibility significantly, as the Air Quality Index (AQI) rose past 300 on a scale of 500, indicating very poor conditions that pose a risk of respiratory problems, according to the federal pollution control boards guidance. (Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Pollution and smog at Tilak Marg on October 14, 2020 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
People walk along Rajpath street during a smoggy morning in New Delhi on October 15, 2020. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
People walk along Rajpath street during a smoggy morning in New Delhi on October 15, 2020. (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - OCTOBER 14: Smog at Anand Vihar on October 14, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Air quality in capital deteriorated as the burning of crop waste in fields sent smoke billowing across the north of the country. A smoggy haze settled over the city, reducing visibility significantly, as the Air Quality Index (AQI) rose past 300 on a scale of 500, indicating very poor conditions that pose a risk of respiratory problems, according to the federal pollution control boards guidance. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Smog at Anand Vihar on October 14, 2020 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Smoky haze shrouds Delhi-NCR; air quality enters 'very poor' zone

Stricter anti-pollution measures, including a ban on electricity generators, under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) came into effect in Delhi-NCR today as a layer of haze hung over the region and air quality slipped to ‘very poor’ levels.

NASA's satellite imagery showed a large cluster of farm fires near Amritsar, Patiala, Tarn Taran, and Firozpur in Punjab, and Ambala and Rajpura in Haryana.

A farmer walks next to burning straw stubble after harvesting a paddy crop in a field on the outskirts of Amritsar on October 11, 2020. (Photo by NARINDER NANU / AFP) (Photo by NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images)
A farmer walks next to burning straw stubble after harvesting a paddy crop in a field on the outskirts of Amritsar on October 11, 2020. (Photo by NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images)
Farmer burn paddy stubble at Kauli village, on October 12, 2020 in Patiala, India. (Photo by Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Farmers burn paddy stubble at Kauli village on October 12, 2020 in Patiala, India. (Photo by Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

However, the Ministry of Earth Sciences' Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi said its impact on the capital's air quality was marginal.

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar too said stubble burning is not a major factor for air pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region.

“Only 4 per cent pollution is due to stubble burning. Ninety-six per cent of it is due to local factors like biomass burning, garbage dumping, unpaved roads, dust, construction and demolition activities etc,” Javadekar said.

The minister flagged off 50 Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) inspection teams for field visits in Delhi-NCR to keep a watch on pollution hot spots during the winter season and urged the Punjab government to curb stubble burning.

Delhi recorded an air quality index (AQI) of 315 at 11:10 am. The last time the air quality hit such a poor level was in February.

The 24-hour average AQI was 276 on Wednesday, which falls in the 'poor' category. It was 300 on Tuesday, 261 on Monday, 216 on Sunday and 221 on Saturday. ITO (AQI 372), Vivek Vihar (AQI 370), and Shadipur (AQI 359) recorded the highest pollution levels on Thursday morning.

Air quality in the neighbouring cities of Faridabad (317), Ghaziabad (326), Greater Noida (344) and Noida (314) was also in the red zone.