17:08 GMT29 September 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): With air pollution reaching alarming levels, India’s top political and judicial brass has come out to salvage the situation.

    As India settles down to take serious measures to mitigate air pollution issues, political leaders from Pakistan have blamed stubble burning in the neighbouring Indian state of Punjab for rising pollution levels in the eastern part of that country.

    Pakistan’s minister in charge of climate change Zartaj Gul Wazir, in a social media post, said sarcastically, “You can’t choose your neighbouring countries".

    ​After the chief minister of the national capital region of Delhi described the situation as being akin to a “gas chamber”, a legislator from the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh made a rather outlandish claim about the air quality situation. Vineet Agarwal Sharda, legislator from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that either of India’s two neighbours, Pakistan or China, could have released poisonous gases into the country’s capital city.

    ​Sharda’s charges come as the two traditional rivals are locked in a bitter diplomatic offensive following New Delhi’s decision to strip its restive state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and divide it into two federally administered territories.

    On Tuesday (05 November), Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a meeting to review pollution in various parts of northern India while on Monday (04 November), the Supreme Court of India called to task states for failing to curb hazardous levels of air pollution.

    While the air quality in the national capital has slightly improved from “Severe” to “Very Poor” New Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index has remained around 345. But Berkeley Earth’s real time air quality index shows, every third day in India was unhealthy, while the rest was unhealthy for sensitive groups.

    The Air Quality Index measures the concentration of tiny poisonous particulate matter – PM 2.5, particles that are less than 2.5 microns in diameter and can be carried deep into the lungs, causing deadly diseases including cancer and cardiac problems.

    One of the main reasons for air pollution in northern India is due to the burning of stubble, which is a yearly practice at this time of the year to prepare fields for the next batch of crops, with the window between one crop to another being very short, forcing farmers to burn the stubble.


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