Citing satellite imagery that showed fires burning in north India on Wednesday, Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain said that if stubble burning is not stopped, the consequences would be “disastrous” for air quality in the city.

In a statement, Mr. Hussain said that satellite images from American space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) pointed towards “large-scale crop residue burning in parts of northern India”.

With temperatures dipping, the ambient air quality in north India, and in Delhi, had become a cause of concern, said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader.

Health hazard

“It is high time that crop residue burning is halted, failing which a serious health hazard awaits entire northern India. It is beyond any reasonable understanding as to why this menace is being ignored despite a well-known fact that the consequences will be disastrous in the coming days,” Mr. Hussain said.

He added that though the forecast for Delhi included light rain and some winds over the weekend, the level of moisture in the air and the pollutants from the stubble fires could impact the air quality negatively.

On Wednesday, the Central Pollution Control Board showed an air quality index of 313 in Delhi, putting it in the very poor category.

The Graded Response Action Plan, the pollution-control plan for the National Capital Region, was put into force earlier this week, leading to the shutdown of the Badarpur power plant and a ban on diesel generator sets.

Zero tolerance

As and when the air quality enters the severe category, stricter measures could be rolled out. Mr. Hussain said there would be zero tolerance for burning of garbage and crop residue.

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