As the year draws to an end it is time to look at the number of times the national capital witnessed air quality in the severe category. This year the AQI was severe for six times which is lowest in the last seven years, accroding to data provided by the Central Pollution Control Board.
An Air Quality Index (AQI) between 401 and 500 is considered 'severe'. In December, Delhi's AQI slipped into the 'severe' category on two days -- the lowest in the month since 2017. The city breathed comparatively less polluted air in 2022 thanks to proactive implementation of anti-pollution plans and favourable meteorological conditions.
Delhi saw its second best air quality (average AQI 210) in October since 2015, when the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) started maintaining AQI data. The data showed that the average AQI in November stood at 320, the second best after 2019 when it was 312. The PM2.5 level this October-November was 38 per cent lower compared to the corresponding period in 2016, which was the worst in the last eight years, it stated.
Stubble burning, a major reason behind hazardous pollution levels in Delhi-NCR in October-November, reduced by 30 per cent in Punjab and 48 per cent in Haryana this year. In July, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) unveiled a new policy listing sector-wise action plans to curb air pollution in Delhi-NCR in the next five years. A key component of the new policy is the revamped Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) which focuses on proactive implementation of anti-pollution curbs based on forecast.
According to the policy, which came into effect immediately, all thermal power plants located within a 300-km radius of Delhi will have to ensure compliance with emission standards set by the Union environment ministry. The Centre's air quality panel has also banned unapproved fuels, including coal, in industrial and commercial applications. The ban comes into force from January 1 and all defaulting establishments will be shut down straight away, without any warning, officials have said.
However, the use of low-sulphur coal in thermal power plants is allowed. The CAQM has also directed Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana to register only CNG and electric autos from January 1 and complete the phasing out of the diesel ones in the National Capital Region (NCR) by the end of 2026. The objective is to ensure only CNG and e-autos ply in the NCR from January 1, 2027.
(With inputs from PTI)
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