MS Swaminathan, agriculture scientist and chairman of the National Commission for Farmers, had some advice for state governments as India’s national capital and surrounding areas struggled to cope with hazardous levels of air pollution.
Swaminathan called the situation a matter of public health concern, but asked the governments of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana to stop blaming farmers.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has repeatedly blamed crop burning in Haryana and Punjab for increased pollution levels in the capital during winter. According to SAFAR, the air quality and weather forecast system, stubble burning contributed to 46% of Delhi’s pollution on Friday, November 1.
Swaminathan, who is dubbed the father of India’s green revolution, said the stubble burned by farmers needed to be turned into a source of income, instead of making farmers “agents of eco-disaster”.
Pollution levels in the national capital dropped marginally on Monday morning due to a slight increase in wind speed, but the air quality remained in the ‘severe’ category, PTI reported.
The capital’s average AQI on Sunday had hit 494, the highest since November 6, 2016 when it was 497.
The Delhi government’s odd-even scheme to moderate vehicular traffic began on Monday. Schools in NCR are closed till November 5 and construction activities have been banned after the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority declared a public health emergency on Friday.
On Monday, the Supreme Court pulled up the Delhi government and the Centre, saying they had left people to die and called the situation “atrocious”.
“Every time we are passing orders for the current issue. We have to pass orders for long-time measures. State governments are responsible. They are interested in electioneering. We will not tolerate this,” the court said.
The amicus curiae told the court that as per the Centre’s affidavit crop burning had gone up by 7% in Punjab and gone down by 17% in Haryana, PTI reported.
The court also took serious note of crop burning in Punjab, Haryana and Western UP, saying it could not go unabated every year.