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EPCA calls for 'immediate stringent action' against stubble-burning in Punjab, Haryana


NEW DELHI: As air quality dipped to emergency levels in the national capital, the Supreme Court-mandated pollution control body EPCA on Friday asked implementing agencies to take immediate stringent action to stop stubble-burning in the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana.

Stubble-burning in the neighboring states has been one of the major contributors to pollution in the national capital.

On Thursday, stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana contributed to 27 percent pollution in Delhi, while on Wednesday the contribution was recorded at 35 percent, the highest so far.

The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority also directed the agencies to take strict action against biomass-burning in Delhi and the outer National Capital Region.

Earlier in the day, the EPCA declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR and banned construction activities till November 5. It also banned the bursting of crackers during the winter season.

"The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority has directed implementing agencies to take immediate stringent actions to stop stubble-burning in neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana," according to a letter EPCA chief Bhure Lal wrote to the chief secretaries of the two states.

According to data from Punjab and Central Pollution Control Boards, the state has recorded a whopping increase of 7,842 fires -- from 12,027 on October 27 to 19,869 on October 30.

Haryana recorded an increase of 476 cases — from 3,735 on October 27 to 4,211 on October 30. Delhi recorded its worst air quality of this season on Friday as the Air Quality Index dipped to 483.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered 'good', 51-100 'satisfactory', 101-200 'moderate', 201-300 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe'.

Above 500 falls in the 'severe-plus emergency' category. In a separate letter to chief secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, Bhure Lal said, "The air quality in Delhi and NCR deteriorated further last night and are now at the severe-plus level. 

We have to take this as a public heath emergency as it will have adverse health impacts on all, particularly our children."

Under these circumstances, he said, construction activities, hot mix plants and stone crushers in Delhi, Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Noida, and Greater Noida will remain closed till the morning of November 5.