As Delhi woke up to poor air quality the morning after Diwali, Environment Minister Gopal Rai accused BJP leaders of pushing people to burst firecrackers despite the air emergency in the capital. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi had been hovering around the 215 mark over the past three days, but saw a sharp rise this morning due to the bursting of crackers, the minister said.
“While many people did not burst crackers, some places saw targeted bursting of crackers. People of Delhi had in mind that the air quality should not deteoriorate. But the BJP encouraged people to burst crackers, Delhi is paying the price. If crackers were not burst, Delhi’s air would be clean now,” he said.
Congress MP Manish Tewari, too, said it is “ironic that a country that could close down at a four-hour notice for lockdown cannot implement a Supreme Court order”. “Obviously, there was a lack of will and no enforcement. This is a very serious issue. The Supreme Court should call all the states and ask them why this order was not enforced,” he told news agency ANI.
BJP MP Manoj Tiwari denied that crackers were burst in Delhi in large numbers. “Very few firecrackers and green crackers were burst. But Congress and other parties have a problem with people celebrating Diwali. Their pain is that the people of Sanatan (Dharma) should not celebrate their festival. There was rain two days ago. What was the AQI before the rain, and how much is it now? It is less,” he told news agency ANI.
Real-time trends on air quality monitors clocked huge jumps in Delhi’s air pollution levels as the sound of crackers rang through the National Capital Region last evening. According to data recorded by the Central Pollution Control Board, levels of pollutants PM2.5 and PM10 saw a big jump this morning. The AQI this morning was around the 300 mark, representing ‘very poor’ air quality.
The Delhi minister said the BJP is in power in neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and at the centre. “Did any BJP leader appeal to people not to burst crackers? It is unfortunate how the BJP did not fulfill its responsibility despite a Supreme Court order (banning crackers). The BJP wanted crackers to be burst. The result is before us,” he said.
The Delhi Minister appealed to people to not be “misled” by the BJP. Mr Rai has called a meeting this afternoon to discuss the air pollution levels in the national capital.
Asked if there is an update on whether the odd-even scheme for vehicles will come into force, he said, “We will discuss all these aspects and decide accordingly,” he said.
Delhi’s air quality had improved following a spell of rain Thursday night, but the AQI was back in the red this morning. Ahead of Diwali, AAP leaders, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had appealed to people not to burst crackers.