Delhi air pollution updates: AAP says odd-even called off as women's safety cannot be compromised

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Delhi air pollution updates: AAP says odd-even called off as women's safety cannot be compromised
  • 11:49 (IST)

    Dean of Diplomatic Corps to meet external affairs ministry over poor air quality today

  • 11:46 (IST)

    Visibilty remains at 1,000 metres in Delhi

    The humidity at 8.30 am. was 91 percent and visibility stood at 1,000 metres. There was no rain expected for a week, an IMD official said.

    The maximum temperature is expected to hover around 25.5 degrees Celsius, which is two notches below the season's average.

  • 11:40 (IST)

    Delhi half marathon to take place despite smog crisis in city

    The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon will go ahead as usual on 19 November despite requests from medical associations, activists to cancel the event, according to NDTVRunners exerting themselves in the smoggy air face the risk of lung damage and heart attacks, said KK Aggarwal, president of the Indian Medical Association, by phone, citing similar deaths in Beijing.  

  • 11:34 (IST)

    Gurugram professionals to take part in 'Car Free Challenge' from 20-26 November

    A group of professionals from Gurugram are taking part in the #TheCarFreeChallenge from 20-26 November to combat air pollution. The effort is to "maximise the use of sustainable transport like bus, metro, etc." 

  • 11:30 (IST)

    Air quality 'very poor' in city: Delhi Traffic Police

  • 11:28 (IST)

    AAP failed to spend environment cess to curb Delhi pollution, says Opposition leader Vijender Gupta

    Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta on Thursday alleged that the AAP government not only "failed" to spend the environment cess fund but also did not furnish quarterly details of expenditure from it to the Supreme Court and the EPCA as mandated by the court.

    He alleged that the Delhi government did not spend a "single penny" of the environment compensation charge (ECC) to address the problem caused by rising air pollution. "Also they did not apprise the Supreme Court of the same and kept the people in dark," Gupta alleged.

  • 11:25 (IST)

    SAFAR study reveals dust storm in West Asia chief trigger behind smog crisis in Delhi

    As Delhi and its neighbours spar over stubble burning, a Centre-run monitoring agency has identified a West Asian dust storm as the chief trigger behind the recent smog episode in the region.

    On 8 November, the contribution of the dust storm was 40 percent, eclipsing the role of emissions from stubble burning, which stood at 25 percent, the Pune-based System of Air Quality And Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) said.

    That was the day pollution levels peaked with PM2.5 concentration reaching 640 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3), according to the SAFAR scientific assessment report of the week-long pollution crisis accessed by PTI.

    "Rest was made up of emissions from local sources such vehicular combustion. If external sources did not have any role, levels of PM2.5 during this period could have been around 200 µg/m3," the report stated.

  • 11:23 (IST)

    NGT allows trucks to enter Delhi; asks states to submit report in two weeks

    NGT permits trucks to enter Delhi on Friday and directed neighbouring states to submit action plan on steps to curb pollution within two weeks. 

  • 11:20 (IST)

    Image: Mahatma Gandhi's statue wears a mask

    A policeman removes the anti-pollution mask from the Gandhi Statue at Gyarah Murti which was put by rebel AAP MLA Kapil Misra and BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa during their protest against smog and air-pollution, in New Delhi on Thursday. 

    Image courtesy: PTI

  • 11:15 (IST)

    Meanwhile, Mahatma Gandhi's statue being protected from the smog

  • 11:07 (IST)

    Air Quality Index at Delhi's Siri Fort still at 'Hazardous' level

  • 10:54 (IST)

    NGT allows construction activities in NCR

    The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday allowed construction activities in the National Capital Region (NCR) while directing that preventive measures to control air pollution be taken. Other prohibitory orders concerning industries, stubble burning etc. will remain in place.  

  • 10:51 (IST)

    After south Delhi, east and north Delhi roll back parking fee hike

    After the SDMC, civic bodies in east and north Delhi have also rolled back the four-time parking fees hike, officials on Thursday said.

    The three municipal corporations had quadrupled the parking fees a week ago, following the order by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal in view of high-level of pollution in the city. "Enhanced parking rates of four times the previous one will cease to operate with immediate effect," the EDMC said in an order.

  • 10:48 (IST)

    40 trains delayed, 13 rescheduled, six cancelled in Delhi due to poor air quality

  • 10:38 (IST)

    Driven out By Delhi smog, Costa Rica envoy says 'India I Love You, But...'

    High level of air pollution in Delhi has affected the health of the Costa Rican envoy in New Delhi, prompting her to retreat to Bengaluru.

    Ambassador of Costa Roca to India Mariela Cruz Alvarez appealed to the people, saying the "blue planet is crying" due to pollution.

    In a personal blog post, she said: "This past weeks the levels of pollution in Delhi reached impossible numbers.  The consequences of breathing this air i had no idea-  until i reached Bangalore and my system collapsed.  My clean Costa rican lungs know nothing about air quality forecast,  particles of PM10 and its monitoring, the same as we know nothing about extreme changes in temperature.  I´m used to living in paradise and suddenly India has become a threat to my health and the health of my friends and colleagues."

  • 10:34 (IST)

    Farmers will need handouts worth $500 million a year to switch to alternative ways of disposing farm stubble

    NITI Aayog, the government’s economic planning think-tank, has estimated farmers would need handouts worth about $500 million a year to switch to alternative ways of disposing farm stubble, said an official who was involved in the preparation of the report.

    Another $100 million is needed to reward local bodies for adopting best practices and funding awareness campaigns, the official said.

  • 10:20 (IST)

    News18 reports: AAP's bus scam busted

    A damning RTI reply indicts Delhi the government. While AAP has been pinning the blame on Center for allegedly taking away the land meant to build a bus depot, an RTI reply has revealed that Delhi govt rented bus depots to private operators as parking lots. 

    The RTI reply assumes importance as Delhi gasps for some clear air. The Kejriwal government has received a lot of flak for not boosting public transport in the city. Delhi needs more buses powered by the clean fuel CNG as the national capital and the surrounding region are swallowed by thick smog that developed due to a host of factors, including automobile emissions, the Delhi High Court told the Kejriwal government on Tuesday.

  • 10:14 (IST)

    Delhi Half Marathon to proceed as planned

    Delhi High Court allows Half Marathon in Delhi to proceed as planned, after the organisers submitted that they have put in a refund policy for those runners who want to opt out and there are measures in place to deal with medical emergencies, The Indian Express reports.

  • 10:07 (IST)

    World Bank estimates pollution cost the country as much as 7.7 percent of the GDP in 2013

    It’s not just the crop burning — a combination of industrial smog, vehicle exhaust and dust envelop the region every year as winter approaches and wind speeds drop. It’s been particularly bad this year with levels of PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter that reaches deep into the lungs, climbing to over 600 last week, according to a US Embassy measure.

    The upper limit for healthy air is 50, the government has said.

    Respiratory diseases killed about 10 people a day in the year to March 2017 in the national capital region, according to the health ministry. The World Bank estimates pollution cost the country as much as 7.7 percent of the GDP in 2013.

  • 09:36 (IST)

    Only God can save us: Delhi officials

    A major source of the smog at this time of year across northern India, including New Delhi, is farmers burning the stubble of the previous crop to prepare for new plantings in November.

    An estimated $600 million is needed to provide farmers with alternatives, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi and opposition parties in power in New Delhi and nearby Punjab states are squabbling over who will pay, said three federal government officials who have been briefed on the situation.

    “Nothing more is likely to happen this year,” said one of them. “We’re now praying. Only God can save us," Reuters quoted officials as saying. 

  • 08:58 (IST)

    Officials sprinkle water in Lucknow to reduce pollution levels

    Officials in UP's Lucknow are also battling heavy pollution in the city. ANI reports that fire brigade services sprinkled water in Mall Avenue, Vikramaditya Marg, Kalidas Marg, Dilkusha areas and near Raj Bhavan in Lucknow in the light of an increase in the pollution in the city.

  • 08:52 (IST)

    SAFAR predicts air quality might take hit over the weekend

    SAFAR (System of Air Quality And Weather Forecasting And Research) has forecast that air quality may dip over the weekend due to incursion of moisture and fall in inversion layer which will keep pollutants trapped near the surface.

    The air quality index (AQI), at 363, was in the 'very poor' zone. The volume (24-hour rolling average) of ultrafine particulates PM2.5 and PM10 were 184 and 299 micrograms per cubic metre respectively.

  • 08:45 (IST)

    Trucks enter city as L-G lifts ban

    Delhi breathed relatively easy as air quality remained outside the 'severe plus' category for the third day straight, prompting authorities to withdraw the ban on entry of trucks and restore parking fees to usual rates.

    The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority lifted the ban on construction activities as well but Lt Governor Anil Baijal kept it in abeyance as the matter was pending with the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

    The NGT, which had separately issued an order banning entry of trucks (except those carrying essential commodities), has posted the matter for hearing tomorrow.

  • 11:50 (IST)

    26 trains delayed, six cancelled as temperature in capital drops below average

    Six trains were cancelled and 26 were running late due to shallow fog in northern India, according to railway spokesperson. It was a misty Thursday morning in the national capital with the minimum temperature recorded at 13 degrees Celsius, which is a notch below the season's average.

  • 11:45 (IST)

    As smog looms large in Delhi, RTI plea reveals AAP govt spent only Rs 93 lakh out of Rs 787 crore environment money

    While the National Capital Region continues to battle smog, an RTI query has revealed that the Delhi government utilised only Rs 93 lakh out of the Rs 787 crore it had collected as environment cess.

    According to a report on CNN-News18, the RTI petition filed by Sanjeev Jain revealed that the Delhi government had received over Rs 50 crore as environment cess in 2015. However, there was a massive increase in collection in 2016 and 2017, when the AAP government collected Rs 386 crore and Rs 787 crore respectively.

    Of this, Rs 93 lakh was paid to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation for payment towards pre-tendering incidental cost related to preparation of RFID documents, said a copy in India Today.

  • 11:37 (IST)

    Expert slam EPCA's knee-jerk reaction 

    Speaking to CNN-News18, environmentalist Vimlendu Jha said," Environment is custodian of environment and not the economy. Ecology is important for the city. But if the EPCA does not show concern about ecology then I do not know who will do so? First, they implement these rules but just two days, all measures are withdrawn. This is nothing but a knee-jerk reaction from EPCA. I am disappointed."

  • 11:32 (IST)

    North, east Delhi was to continue with revised rates

    While the parking fees in areas falling under the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, which were quadrupled a week ago, were to be restored to the previous rates from Thursday onwards, the NDMC and EDMC corporations were to continue with the revised rates. But with the EPCA's latest decision, all corporations now need to go back to the original rates. 

  • 11:28 (IST)

    Heavy smog led to Four-time hike in parking charges

    The SMDC and the other two municipal corporations — the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation — had effected a four-time hike in the fees from 9 November, following the order by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal in view of the high-level of pollution in the city.

  • 11:23 (IST)

    Parking fees hike also withdrawn 

    The EPCA has also withdrawn the four-fold hike in parking fees in Delhi, ANI reported. 

  • 11:19 (IST)

    Ban on all construction work lifted in Delhi

    The Environment Pollution Control Board said that not only has the ban on construction work been lifted but also the curbs on entry of trucks been lifted. The EPCA said that the decision has been taken as the smog situation is now under control. 

  • 11:11 (IST)

    EPCA lifts ban on construction work, entry of trucks 

  • 11:10 (IST)

    Updates for 16 November 2017 begin

  • 12:03 (IST)

    SAD-BJP to protest against Arvind Kejrwal 

    According to India Today, SAD and Congress workers are demanding expulsion of Sukhpal Singh Khaira from the Aam Aadmi Party. The protesters allege AAP defamed Punjab by raking up the issue of drugs and now the party's own leader is reportedly involved in a case of drug smuggling. 

  • 12:02 (IST)

    Arvind Kejriwal arrives in Chandigarh

  • 11:49 (IST)

    ML Khattar's 'one-hand-distance' diktat

    According to CNN News18, the Haryana government has come out with a diktat ahead of ML Khattar's meeting with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. A notification said that journalists need to keep an one-hand-distance from Khattar. 

  • 11:40 (IST)

    Amarinder Singh snubs Arvind Kejriwal's request to meet

    On Tuesday, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh rejected Kejriwal's request to meet and instead asked him to refrain from "trying to politicise a serious issue". 

  • 11:24 (IST)

    Kejriwal had blamed stubble burning for smog situation

    The Delhi chief minister had earlier blamed stubble burning by farmers in Punjab and Haryana for the thick smog that has descended over Delhi. He had also written to the Chief Ministers of both states and requested for a joint meeting to "find solution" to the problem that has led to widespread health concerns in the National Capital Region.

  • 11:21 (IST)

    Kejriwal accompanied by environment minister, bureaucrat 

    Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain and Environment Department Secretary Keshav Chandra are also accompanying the Delhi chief minister to the meeting with Haryana chief minister ML Khattar. 

  • 11:19 (IST)

    Arvind Kejriwal tweeted about his upcoming meeting with Khattar

  • 11:10 (IST)

    Updates for 15 November 2017 begin

  • 17:06 (IST)

    Here's a look at how India and China, the countries with the world’s dirtiest air, stack up on their fight against air pollution

    Infographic courtesy: network18creative

  • 17:00 (IST)

    It seems like Delhiites have not be disillusioned by the festering Delhi smog, fitness enthusiasts work out despite the poor air quality condition in the national capital 

  • 16:58 (IST)

    Air quality level at hazardous level in Mandir Marg, Delhi 

  • 16:42 (IST)

    MeT update of smog situation in North India 

    The India Meteorological Department observed that very dense fog has been observed at most places over Punjab, Haryana and north Rajasthan; while moderate to dense fog persists at a few places over Delhi (SFD/PLM) and rest Uttar Pradesh.

    The lowest visibility (<500 M) observed at 08.30 hours IST of today: Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Ambala, Ganganagar, Hissar & Rohtak ­25 M each; Bareilly ­50 M; Delhi ( SFD/PLM) & Meerut­ 200 M each and  Lucknow & Fursatganj­ 500 each.

  • 16:38 (IST)

    Govt is playing with children's health, accuse angry parents as schools reopen after 5 days

    Angry parents accused Delhi authorities on Monday of "playing with children's health" as schools reopened despite a fresh surge in pollution to emergency levels.

    "There has been no let-up in the pollution levels. So if the situation is the same, action should be the same. Why open the schools now?" said Ashok Agrawal, president of the All India Parents Association.

    "On one hand the government is saying there is a health emergency and on the other, they are playing with children's health. "It is so disturbing to see children coughing and struggling to breathe all the way to the school."

    Read more here

  • 16:28 (IST)

    Arvind Kejriwal retaliates to Manohar Lal Khattar's request for a meeting, says his office 'is constantly trying to fix meeting'

  • 16:24 (IST)

    Cleaning capital's toxic air requires scientific thinking, compliance and political will

    Cleaning Delhi’s air—a problem that has now reached alarming proportions—thus, requires political will, unified planning, scientific thinking, engineering innovation, administrative compliance and cross-national cooperation, as it is indeed, a problem of north India. Unfortunately, all that the past week has brought us has been uncooperative federalism, unscientific remarks, angry courts and toxic air. Any debate and dialogue around air pollution must not revolve around personalities and politics and must rather adhere to principles of science and prudent policy.

    Full analysis here 

  • 16:12 (IST)

    Mothers advocate for clean air for children in a maternity beauty pageant

    Winners of the 'Maternity Queen 2017 Contest' pose with masks to spread message “Swacch Hawa-Surakshit Ma-Shishu” (Clean Air Safe Mother and Child), in Chandigarh on Sunday.

    Image courtesy: PTI 

  • 16:06 (IST)

    Recap: Delhi govt moves NGT seeking changes in odd-even scheme; green panel to hear plea tomorrow

    The Delhi government on Monday moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) seeking amendment in its 11 November order on odd-even car rationing scheme. The green panel said it will hear the plea on Tuesday.

    Read more here

  • 16:00 (IST)

    Rahul Gandhi takes a swipe at Narendra Modi for his silence on Delhi air pollution issue 

    Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi recalled lines from a Bollywood film song to take a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the air pollution issue in the national capital.

    Gandhi, with the help of a song from the 1978 film "Gaman", indirectly referred to government 'inaction' on pollution.

    He added a new line to the verse, bringing in a "Saheb" who remains quiet despite being in the know.

    Read more here

As thick smog crept over India's capital this week and smudged landmarks from view, Nikunj Pandey could feel his eyes and throat burning.

Pandey stopped doing his regular workouts and said he felt tightness in his lungs. He started wearing a triple layer of pollution masks over his mouth. And he became angry that he couldn't safely breathe the air.

"This is a basic right," he said. "A basic right of humanity." Pandey is among many people in New Delhi who have become more aware of the toxic air in recent years and are increasingly frustrated at the lack of meaningful action by authorities.

This week the air was the worst it's been all year in the capital, with microscopic particles that can affect breathing and health spiking to 75 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organisation.

Experts have compared breathing the air to smoking a couple of packs of cigarettes a day. The Lancet medical journal recently estimated some 2.5 million Indians die each year from pollution.

Pandey said the millions of rural folk who have moved to the city understand the problem better than they once did, and are trying everything from tying scarves over their faces to eating "jaggery," a sugar cane product that some people believe offers a range of health benefits.

 Delhi air pollution updates: AAP says odd-even called off as womens safety cannot be compromised

Representational image. PTI

Masks once considered an affectation of hypochondriac tourists are these days routinely worn by government workers and regular people on the street.

Volunteers handed out thousands of green surgical masks this week to make a point about the pollution, but such masks likely have a limited impact on keeping out the tiny particles from people's lungs.

"This is truly a health emergency," said Anumita Roychowdhury, the executive director of research and advocacy at New Delhi's Centre for Science and Environment.

She said doctors in recent days have been dealing with a 20 percent spike in emergency hospital admissions from people suffering heart and lung problems. And that's in a city, she said, where one in every three children already has compromised lungs.

Seema Upadhyaya, who heads a primary school, said she has never before witnessed so many children suffering from respiratory illnesses as she has this year. That has prompted changes to the curriculum.

"It's impacting everybody," she said.

Authorities have been taking extraordinary measures to try to mitigate the immediate crisis. They have temporarily closed schools and stopped most trucks from entering the city. Next week they are considering rationing car usage.

But everyone agrees such measures don't address the root causes, which remain hard to solve.

Roychowdhury said the city's pollution has been trapped this week by a lack of wind at ground level, colliding winds in the upper atmosphere, and cooling temperatures.

Air quality typically gets worse at this time of year as nearby farmers burn fields and people build street fires to keep warm. The conditions this week prompted the capital's top elected official, Arvind Kejriwal, to describe his city as a "gas chamber."

While crop burning has been banned in and around the capital, officials say it's hard to punish impoverished farmers for continuing traditional methods that have been handed down through the generations.

Pandey said it's part of a broader problem in India.

"Your water is not healthy, your food is not healthy, your vegetables are polluted, they are poisoned," he said. "I mean, everything is polluted right now."

Roychowdhury said she is encouraged there is rising awareness of the air quality problem, both among residents and the medical community. But she says authorities need to do more.

She said officials have been asking people this week to use more public transport, but at the same time the city doesn't have enough buses and hasn't bought any new ones in recent years.

"What we are saying, and the Supreme Court has already asked for it, is that there should be a comprehensive plan for all sources of pollution," she said.

Meanwhile, people like Pandey say they are going to have to suffer through, because New Delhi is where they need to be based for work opportunities and their families.

"We are India, right?" he said. "We just try to survive in whatever condition we are in. That is how it is."


With inputs from AP

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Updated Date: Nov 17, 2017 11:49:57 IST