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Stubble burning contributes 4% to Delhi-NCR pollution, says Javadekar; ministry clarifies

Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar evoked a sharp response from the Delhi government on Thursday morning when he said that stubble burning contributes to only 4% of PM 2.5 pollution in the national capital region while 96% of the pollution was due to local factors, like biomass burning, unpaved roads, road dust, construction and demolition waste etc.

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Javadekar said so while he was flagging off 50 Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) inspection teams for field visits in Delhi-NCR to keep a watch on pollution hot spots

“Only 4% 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,” he said, adding that “Punjab government should ensure there is not much stubble burning this time,” the minister said.

Responding to this, Delhi government environment minister Gopal Rai said the contribution from stubble burning is, in fact, 44% based on CPCB’s data.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also tweeted, “Staying in denial will not help. If stubble burning causes only 4% pollution, then why has pollution suddenly increased last fortnite? Air was clean before that. Same story every yr. There’s no massive jump in any local source of pollution in last few days to cause this spike?”

Later, an MoEFCC spokesperson clarified that Javadekar was referring to the contribution of stubble burning only for this year, which is 4% till now. Last year, it was much higher.

The ministry also tweeted, “Share of Stubble burning changes every day. Last year, between 08 Oct-09 Dec, the share of Stubble burning in #AirPollution in Delhi (as per SAFAR data), was greater than15% on six days, while on a single day it was greater than 40%.”

Delhi’s air quality index on Thursday morning was 325 in very poor category. There are widespread crop fires in both Punjab and Haryana as seen in satellite images.

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