Will Delhi have a smog-filled Diwali? High-level meeting today to discuss situation

New Delhi:

The governments of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana will be meetingofficials of the Environment Pollution Control Authority today to take stock ofthe smog situation in the national capital. There was a thick haze over thecity's skyline for almost a week before it finally cleared out yesterday.

Today's meeting, to be attended by secretaries of Delhi, Haryana and Punjab aswell as scientists and environmentalists, is expected to focus on the causesand the solutions to the thick smog cover that has engulfed the city,indicating a sharp drop in the air quality.

The meeting has also been necessitated after the Delhi government sought theintervention of the Centre, saying that the smog has been a result of massiveburning of straw by farmers in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Uttar Pradeshand Haryana and not due to vehicular pollution.

But activists have blamed the environmental hazard on the rising number ofvehicles and the resultant emissions in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Even though the smog cover that had enveloped Delhi for the past few daysfinally lifted on Friday, it could well return with Diwali just round thecorner. Delhi Chief Minister Dikshit has already appealed to the citizens toavoid bursting fire-crackers during the festival next week.

The gravity of the situation came to the fore when even the Supreme Courtexpressed concern over the rising pollution and smog in the national capital."We are concerned with the level of smog in the city. Every day we arehearing about the rising level of pollution in the city. We will deal with thematter," a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir had said onTuesday.

Smog is not an uncommon phenomenon for Delhi during winters, but it has hitsooner than expected this year and is more severe. Slow wind speed, lowtemperature and high humidity have further added to the thick haze cover.