0616 GMT February 25, 2020
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who called the city a "gas chamber" on Friday, said pollution had reached "unbearable levels across North India" and urged the center to take action. "Delhi suffering for no fault of theirs. Center should take immediate steps 2 provide relief. We will support Center in all initiatives," Kejriwal tweeted, NDTV reported.
Delhi AQI crossed 500 late on Thursday night, entering "emergency" territory for the first time since January and forcing the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) to declare a public health emergency. It improved to 407 on Saturday morning but has deteriorated steadily since. Pollution levels in neighboring areas like Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad are as bad, with levels ranging from 400 ("severe") to 709 ("hazardous").
As residents in Delhi and surrounding areas wade through the toxic and poisonous fog, the central government and the chief ministers of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana have traded blows on social media and in letters to each other, with each accusing the other of failing to control the situation.
On Saturday, a day after Kejriwal asked students to write to his counterparts in Punjab and Haryana, whom he had earlier accused of "forcing farmers to burn stubble", Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar slammed him for "politicizing" the issue and said he was trying to paint them as "villains".
The attack, in a series of tweets, came as the Delhi Chief Minister sent him a letter asking for details of the center's plan to counter stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana. The Union Minister suggested the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is in power in Delhi, give part of its budget so farmers in Punjab and Haryana to purchase machinery to help reduce pollution.
The center has provided subsidies of between 50 and 80 percent but a Punjab farmer has told NDTV that the machinery is still very expensive and "it is compulsion to burn stubble".
According to data from the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the contribution of stubble burning to haze and air pollution in Delhi-NCR was 46 percent on Friday, 24 percent on Thursday and 35 percent on Wednesday.