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Delhi air quality just shy of 'severe' level, situation likely to worsen tomorrow

Heavy stubble burning and calm winds kept the pollution level of Delhi in the very poor category as 17 areas in the national capital recorded severe pollution levels, authorities said.

India TV News Desk Reported by: India TV News Desk
New Delhi Published on: October 30, 2018 11:30 IST
Delhi air quality just shy of 'severe' level, situation
Image Source : FILE/PTI

Delhi air quality just shy of 'severe' level, situation likely to worsen tomorrow

The air quality has continued to drop despite various efforts and actions by the authorities. The AQI, recorded by Delhi Pollution Control Committee, shows that air quality across the national capital is currently at an alarmingly low levels, even as the BJP-led central government and the AAP dispensation indulged in a blame game over the rising air pollution.

Meanwhile, according to a WHO report, over one lakh children under five years of age died in India in 2016 due to exposure to toxic air. The report noted that about 98 per cent of children in the same age group in low and middle-income countries were exposed to air pollution.

Authorities also asked 113 industries to shut down for not converting to Piped Natural Gas (PNG) in the national capital.

Heavy stubble burning and calm winds kept the pollution level of Delhi in the very poor category as 17 areas in the national capital recorded severe pollution levels, authorities said.

Toxic air across Delhi

The air quality of Delhi was recorded at 397, just three points below the severe level and highest of this season, according to the data of the Central Pollution Control Board.

Seventeen areas of the national capital recorded severe air quality, the data said. 

On a scale of 0-500, AQI in the range of 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’.

The SAFAR said about 28 per cent of pollution by PM2.5 (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) on Tuesday was caused due to regional factors like stubble burning.

PM2.5 was recorded at 251, the highest of this season. Fine particulates can be a matter of more serious health concern than PM10.

The PM10 level (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres) in Delhi stood at 453, according to the CPCB data.

Situation likely to worsen tomorrow

The SAFAR said the pollution is likely to increase further tomorrow and day after and then slow down.

"Air quality index will be in the upper level of very poor for the next three days. The main reason is heavy biomass burning in the past 24-hours and local calm winds," the SAFAR said.

The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) also spotted a large number of biomass fire spots through satellite imageries in neighbouring states of Delhi.

The prevailing meteorological conditions are less favourable for dispersal of pollutants for the next two days due to moderate ventilation index and low wind speed, it said.

"As per Air Quality Forecast the overall Air Quality of Delhi is likely to remain close to upper end of very poor category in the next two days," the IITM said.

A thick haze due to smog continued to hover over the national capital, authorities said. 

Ban on old vehicles in Delhi

In view of alarming deterioration in Delhi's air quality, the Supreme Court on Monday prohibited the plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the national capital region.

The apex court made it clear that such vehicles would be impounded if found on the roads in Delhi-NCR.

Terming as "very critical" and "horrible" the prevailing pollution situation in Delhi-NCR, the apex court directed that a list of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles be published on the website of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and transport departments of the NCR area.

From yesteray | Heavy stubble burning in 24 hours deteriorates air quality to alarming levels, 10 areas record 'severe' pollution

Politics of pollution

The BJP-led central government and the AAP dispensation accused each other of not taking effective steps to curb it.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal blamed the Centre, and the governments of Haryana and Punjab and accused them of not being ready to do anything despite the efforts by the Aam Aadmi Party government.

"The pollution was in control in Delhi throughout the year, but this time (winters) every year, Delhi has to face severe pollution due to the Centre, BJP-led Haryana and Congress-led Punjab governments," he tweeted in Hindi.

"Despite our all-out efforts, they are not ready to do anything. Farmers of these two states are also fed up with their governments," he said.

Responding to Kejriwal's charges, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan alleged the AAP dispensation "failed" to undertake basic measures to curb pollution.

Vardhan said Kejriwal "cannot absolve himself of responsibility" by targeting the Centre and the state governments.

He said the Centre had undertaken a series of measures like Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) for Delhi and the national capital region and setting up of air purifiers.

"This is your responsibility. We have been tracking farm fires with the help of satellites and compared to previous years, it has been consistently going down. It is wrong to blame Haryana, Punjab and the central government. Your work is being done by the central government," Vardhan said.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari asked the party-ruled municipal corporations to step in to tackle the rising air pollution in the city, claiming the AAP government had "failed" to take effective measures for it.

Also read | What are main causes of air pollution in Delhi?

Toxic air kills over one lakh children

The World Health organisation also came out with an analysis of 2016 data according to which over one lakh children under the age of five died after exposure to toxic air.

The study noted that about 98 per cent of children in the same age group in low and middle-income countries, include nations like India, were exposed to air pollution.

In the report, titled 'Air Pollution and Child Health: Prescribing Clean Air', deaths of about 600,000 children under 15 years of age in 2016 were attributed to the joint effects of ambient and household air pollution.

India reported 60,987 deaths of children under the age of five due to exposure to toxic air in 2016, of which 32,889 were girls and 28,097 boys.

Another report by Greenpeace also presented a grim picture of India's pollution level.
According to the report, three of the world's largest nitrogen oxide air pollution emission hotspots, which contribute to formation of PM2.5 and ozone, were in India, with one in Delhi NCR region.

Delhi-NCR, Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh and Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and Talcher-Angul in Odisha were the hotspots identified. Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh and Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh had one hotspot.

Read full story | Over 1 lakh under five children died due to exposure to toxic air in India in 2016, says WHO

Action plan to combat pollution in coming days

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has agreed to the recommendations made by the CPCB for the first 10 days of November when the air quality is likely to deteriorate further due to festival season and stubble burning in neighbouring states.
The recommendations included closure of all construction activities that generate dust pollution between November 1 and 10.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)-led task force also recommended shutting down of coal and biomass based industries, excluding thermal and waste-to-energy plants, from November 4 to 10, intensification of efforts by Transport Department to check polluting vehicles and controlling traffic congestion in Delhi-NCR between November 1 and 10.

Authorities asked 113 industries to shut down for not converting to Piped Natural Gas (PNG). Of the total units, 67 are located in Bawana and Narela industrial areas, an official statement said Monday.

In a meeting chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal, officials said 1,368 show cause notices and 417 closure directions were issued against polluting units by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). 

(With agency inputs)

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