The contribution of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution crisis has risen to 19 per cent today, the Central Pollution Control Board has said, two days after Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said farm fires only add "4 per cent pollution" to the national capital region, starting a blame game.
The anti-pollution agency CPCB today said that worsening of Delhi's air quality coincides with an increase in instance of stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.
"An increase in stubble burning fire counts was observed yesterday (October 16) around neighbouring regions of Punjab and Haryana. SAFAR estimates the fire count to 822. Transport and wind direction is favourable; an increase in stubble contribution in PM 2.5 is estimated at around 19 per cent for the day," a CPCB statement said.
The statement was issued as air quality in Delhi dropped to "poor" a day after it improved marginally. On Friday, wind speed helped disperse pollutants even as the contribution of stubble burning to Delhi's PM2.5 concentration rose to 18 per cent, news agency PTI said.
Delhi's annual air quality crisis has triggered a blame game between parties governing the Centre, Delhi and Punjab.
The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government has blamed the BJP-led central government of making all of "north India pay" for its "inaction on the issue of air pollution" around the year and only addressing the problem in a piece-meal fashion.
The central government has shared a list of measures taken to keep Delhi's air from becoming toxic and insisted that local factors, such as "biomass burning, garbage dumping, unpaved roads, dust, construction and demolition activities, etc" were responsible for its bad air.
The statement invited a sharp reaction from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who said "being in denial won't help".
The BJP-led centre has also attacked Congress government in Punjab for failing to control farm fires, which have increased four times amid protests against three contentious farm laws.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has, however, used Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar's statement that "only 4 per cent pollution is due to stubble burning" to say it "vindicated" his government's stand and said the Delhi government should "stop lying".