The contribution of stubble burning in Delhi’s air pollution levels reached 40% on Sunday, the highest so far in this season, reported PTI, citing the Centre’s monitoring agency. SAFAR, the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, said that 3,261 farm fires were seen over Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Uttarakhand on Saturday.

The share of stubble burning in the national Capital’s pollution levels was 40% on Sunday, 32% on Saturday, 19% on Friday, and 36% on Thursday.

On November 1, 2019, farm fires had contributed to 44% in Delhi’s pollution levels.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s satellite imaging also showed a large, dense group of fires in Punjab, parts of Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.

“Air quality may deteriorate to a severe category in Delhi if wind speed reduces,” India Meteorological Department’s air quality division scientist Vijay Soni told Hindustan Times. “The only reason Delhi escaped the impact of severe air quality is because of favourable meteorological conditions. Wind speed ranged from 10 to 18 kmph on Sunday which aided dispersal but air quality can deteriorate if the high number of farm fires persist.”

However, farmer leaders said the stubble burning will continue in Punjab for at least 10 more days till harvesting of the Kharif crop is done. Bharatiya Kisan Union general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal agreed that the number of farm fires is extraordinarily high. “One is that farmers are agitating against the farm bills. They are not in a mood to comply with directions,” he said. “They are also looking to complete harvesting in the next 10 days. There is little monitoring by law enforcing agencies also because of widespread agitation.”

Lakhowal said Bhatinda, Ludhiana, Barnala, are some of the areas where stubble burning is high.

On Monday, at 8 am, Delhi’s air quality was recorded at 302 in the “very poor” category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. According to SAFAR, the overall AQI was recorded at 381. An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51-100 falls under “satisfactory” zone, 101-200 is “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor” and 401-500 is “severe” category. A fall in temperatures makes the air cold and heavy, leading to accumulation of pollutants near the ground.