Even as air pollution reaching critical levels in the national capital over the past week, the air quality in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh has also gone worse.
Industrial district Ghaziabad topped the state with Air Quality Index touching 435 on November 7 evening. This is graded as “severe” air pollution, as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) norms.
Tourist city Agra (428), Noida (427), Bulandshahr (420), and Kanpur (415) too are listed under “severely” polluted cities. Meanwhile, there will unlikely be any respite from ‘severe’ air in Delhi until Diwali.
The CPCB warned, “The AQI above 400 affects healthy people and severely impacts those with pre-existing diseases.” AQI 500 is the maximum limit on the pollution scale.
The scores of state capital Lucknow and Moradabad were in the range of 390, which is tagged “very poor” and can lead to respiratory illness after prolonged exposure. Lucknow was the third most polluted city in India, a day before.
“All these cities are primarily industrial cities and their air quality becomes a cause of concern every year. Industrial and vehicular pollution, construction activities, broken roads, and stable burning in rural areas are the major reasons behind it,” said an official.
Low temperature, winds, and mist add to the trouble.
The UP government has been cracking down on farmers over the past few days alleging that stubble burning is the major reason for the air pollution. As many as 64 farmers have been arrested and 1,000 have been served notices for burning farm residue. More than 580 cases have been registered against several hundred farmers.
BSP chief Mayawati flayed the UP government over what she called "harassment and state-sponsored excesses" on farmers in the guise of action against those causing pollution, especially by stubble-burning. However, no measures have been taken against dust, vehicular and industrial pollutions. Experts say the situation may worsen during the Diwali due to bursting of crackers.
Pollution officer’s pay halted
The Lucknow administration has stopped the salary of the regional head of the UP Pollution Control Board, Dr Ram Karan, for “poor performance”.