Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday announced a complete ban on the storage, sale and use of all firecrackers during Diwali festival in the light of Delhi’s “dangerous pollution level”.
Kejriwal asked traders to not store any firecrackers as they had suffered losses last year.
In November 2020, Kejriwal had imposed a ban on firecrackers as coronavirus cases had surged in the city. He had instead pressed for an increase in medical infrastructure at government hospitals to treat coronavirus patients.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the 30-day average of the air quality index for Delhi in November stood at 328, which falls in the “very poor” category.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.
Delhi had recorded nine “severe” air quality days in November 2020, the most such days in the month in four years before it.
On Wednesday, Delhi’s air quality index was 122 – “moderate”.
Kejriwal on Monday had broached the topic of pollution due to stubble burning in Delhi’s neighbouring states. At a press conference, he had asked the Centre to tell the concerned states to use a bio-decomposer instead of burning their fields.
Every year around the months of October and November, farmers in northern states including Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh burn the stubble left from harvesting paddy to prepare soil for the next crop. Farmers say they only have 10 days-15 days between harvesting and sowing seeds for the next season, and that stubble burning is a time-saving and cost-effective method to prepare the soil.
The burning of vast fields in these states, along with the falling temperatures and decreased wind speed, contributes to air pollution in the Indo-Gangetic plains and particularly in landlocked Delhi from October onwards.
However, Kejriwal did not hold farmers responsible for rising pollution levels. He said that the state governments should have provided a solution.