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Farmers blamed for Delhi's pollution say they are helpless

Indian farmers say they're being unfairly criticized for causing the worst air pollution in the capital because of the burning of stubbles in the fields.

The air quality index stood at 273 on Thursday after authorities declared a health emergency last weekend when the index crossed 500 — 10 times the level considered healthy by WHO standards.

Despite a ban on stubble burning, farmers say they have no choice but to set fire to the crop residue.

A cyclist paddles his cart as the city envelops in smog in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. Indian farmers say they’re being unfairly criticized for causing the worst air pollution in the capital because of the burning of stubble in the fields. The air quality index stood at 273 on Thursday after authorities declared a health emergency last weekend when the index crossed 500 _ 10 times the level considered healthy by WHO standards. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

Farmers in Haryana and Punjab states traditionally resort to stubble burning during the months of October and November as a cheap way of clearing their fields after harvesting the crops.

This year's record pollution has also been aggravated by smog from festival fireworks.