Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he was appealing "with folded hands" to Punjab and Haryana to take concrete steps against stubble burning in the states and prevent the national capital from turning into a "gas chamber".
The chief minister's appeal came as Delhi's air quality remained in the 'severe' category for the second day straight after it plummeted on Monday morning, a day after Diwali. The overall air quality index (AQI) for the national capital stood at 506 level, according to System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).
Smoke from stubble burning in the neighbouring Punjab and Haryana is believed to have spiked the pollution levels in the landlocked Delhi along with fireworks and unfavourable weather conditions.
Punjab and Haryana have recorded an increase of at least 2,400 farm fires, a major contributor to the air pollution in Delhi, till October 27, according to government data.
Kejriwal said on Twitter that the Delhi government is taking all steps to reduce pollution.
"I appeal to the Punjab and Haryana governments with folded hands on behalf of the residents of Delhi to take strong steps and prevent Delhi from becoming a gas chamber," he tweeted.
Later, the Delhi government said in a statement that the latest NASA images show a drastic spurt in crop residue burning in the neighbouring states. The stubble plume from north-west regions has become one of the significant factors in adversely affecting Delhi's air quality.
"The effective stubble fire counts of Haryana and Punjab have increased from 1,654 to 2,577 during the past 24 hours, which is a matter of extreme concern for the residents of Delhi," it stated.
On Tuesday, the north-western wind direction might increase stubble plume to move towards Delhi and as per the SAFAR-model, the stubble share may touch this year's peak now.
Several parts of Delhi were experiencing 'severe" air pollution on Tuesday.
Anand Vihar was the most-polluted area with an AQI of 436 and Nehru Nagar following with an AQI of 430. An Air Quality Index between 401-500 falls into “severe” category and anything beyond that is “severe-plus emergency”.
The AQI takes into account five chief pollutants, including the PM10 and PM2.5. The higher the AQI value, the greater the health concern.
Delhi is going through a bad period with reference to ambient air quality even after celebrating one of the cleanest Diwali in the last few years, the government said.
The air quality index in Delhi on Tuesday morning remained under "severe" category at 506 level, according to System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). Delhi's adjoining areas like Noida and Gurugram saw the air quality at ''severe" level with PM 2.5 at 674 mark and "very poor category" at 383 mark, respectively.