BJP activists incited residents to burn crackers, AQI rose by 100 points overnight: Gopal Rai

The Delhi environment minister claimed that firecrackers were illegally brought from UP and Haryana, with police in the states allowing their transportation.

Representative image (Photo by Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Representative image (Photo by Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)


People associated with the BJP instigated residents to burn firecrackers on Diwali, leading to an overnight increase of over 100 points in the national capital's air quality index, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai alleged on Monday.

At a press conference, he said the firecrackers burnt in Delhi were sourced from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, and that certain individuals, including police personnel from these states, permitted the transportation of those firecrackers to the city.

"Delhi would not have been suffering had these states implemented the ban on firecrackers and their police done their duty properly," Rai said.

He also said that stringent measures, including a ban on construction work and the entry of polluting trucks into Delhi, under Stage IV of the Centre's air pollution control plan, will continue to be in force in Delhi till further orders.

Rai added that the Delhi government has decided to extend its campaign to control dust pollution till November 30 and launch a month-long drive against open burning of waste from November 14.

The minister said these steps have been taken based on suggestions from experts who have predicted worsening of meteorological conditions which could allow accumulation of pollutants over the next three to four days.

Rai also said a call on the implementation of the odd-even car rationing scheme will be taken only after the air quality reaches the "severe plus" category (AQI above 450).

There was a plan to enforce the scheme, which restricts cars to operate on alternate days based on the odd or even last digit of their registration numbers, earlier but it was deferred last week, after a considerable improvement in air quality due to rain on Friday.

Delhi recorded a jump in pollution levels and a smoky haze returned on Monday morning after residents flouted the ban on firecrackers on Diwali night.

"People associated with the BJP instigated people to burn crackers, leading to a rise in pollution levels. Delhi's AQI rose by over 100 points overnight," Rai said.

As it has done over the past three years, the Delhi government in September announced a comprehensive ban on the manufacture, storage, sale and the use of firecrackers within the city.

The capital recorded its best air quality on Diwali day in eight years on Sunday, with its 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) settling at 218 at 4 pm.

However, firecrackers bursting till late Sunday night led to a spike in pollution levels amid low temperatures.

On Monday, the AQI stood at 275 (poor category) at 7 am and gradually rose to 322 by 12 noon.

Pollution levels neared the 'severe' category (AQI between 400 and 450) in some areas, including Ayanagar (382), Central Road Research Institute (393) and Pusa (391).

The concentration of PM2.5, fine particulate matter that can penetrate deep into the respiratory system and trigger respiratory problems, exceeded the safe limit of 60 microgrammes per cubic metre by six to seven times in these areas.

Firecracker bursting pushed the PM2.5 concentration at many places, including Okhla and Jahangirpuri, in the capital over 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre in the early morning hours.

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