According to data from the Decision Support System, a numerical model-based framework capable of identifying the sources of particulate matter pollution in Delhi, stubble burning in the neighbouring states, particularly Punjab and Haryana, accounted for 23 per cent of the air pollution in the city on Wednesday. The figure was at 33 per cent on Thursday and 10 per cent on Friday.
The data also found that transport — another major cause of pollution in the city — contributed 12 to 14 per cent to Delhi’s foul air over the past few days.
Vinay Kumar Sehgal, principal scientist at the New Delhi-based Indian Agricultural Research Institute, anticipated a reduction in farm fires in Punjab and Haryana around Diwali due to wet conditions following rainfall.
On Friday, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said the government had postponed the implementation of the odd-even car rationing scheme as there had been a notable improvement in the city’s air quality due to the rain.
He said the government would review the air quality situation after Diwali and a call on the ‘odd-even’ scheme might be taken in case of a sharp increase in pollution levels.
Rai had earlier said the scheme would be implemented in the city after the Supreme Court reviewed its effectiveness and issued an order.
On Tuesday, the apex court questioned the effectiveness of the Delhi government’s car rationing scheme, aimed at curbing vehicular pollution, and referred to it as “all optics”.
Anticipating further deterioration of the air quality post-Diwali, Rai on Monday announced that the scheme, which permits cars to operate on alternate days based on the odd or even last digit of their registration numbers, would be enforced between November 13 and 20.
Doctors say breathing the polluted air of Delhi is equivalent to the harmful effects of smoking approximately 10 cigarettes a day.
Prolonged exposure to high levels of pollution can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and dramatically raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, they said.