Delhi records AQI of 458 as air quality remains 'severe'; Gautam Gambhir and 24 MPs skip crucial parliamentary meet on pollution

  • The air quality index in the national capital stood at 463 at 4 pm, with Dwarka Sector 8 being the most-polluted area with an AQI of 495

  • The situation may worsen due to a drizzle on Friday night, SAFAR said

  • Only four MPs of a 28-member Parliamentary panel attended a key meeting to discuss the air pollution crisis in Delhi-NCR on Friday

Delhi remained blanketed by a thick smog for the fourth consecutive day on Friday as unfavourable weather hampered the dispersion of pollutants, with improvement in air quality expected only by Sunday.

The Air Quality Index in the national capital stood at 458 as CPCB's daily bulletin issued at 4 pm. According to PTI, Dwarka Sector 8 was the most-polluted area on Friday with an AQI of 495. Most of the air quality monitoring stations recorded an AQI above 450. Neighbouring areas Faridabad (450), Ghaziabad (475), Greater Noida (445), Gurgaon (461) and Noida (474) too continued to reel under deteriorated air quality.

An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe'. The government's air quality monitoring and forecasting service (SAFAR) was quoted by PTI as saying that drizzle on Thursday night proved counter-productive and led to the formation of secondary particles — a situation Delhi had also witnessed in the first week of November.

 Delhi records AQI of 458 as air quality remains severe; Gautam Gambhir and 24 MPs skip crucial parliamentary meet on pollution

Representational image. ANI

The situation may worsen due to drizzle on Friday night, it said. Secondary particles, such as sulphates, nitrates, ozone and organic aerosols, are products of complicated atmospheric reactions between primary particles, such as particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide directly emitted by stubble burning and vehicles, in the presence of other factors such as sunlight and moisture.

A cloud cover and slow wind speed due to a western disturbance have been unconducive for dispersion of pollutants, experts said.

The SAFAR said only two farm fires could be detected on 14 November and the count could be more as cloudy conditions affect the satellites' capability to detect stubble burning. It said the share of farm fires in Delhi's pollution is expected to be only 10 percent.

Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR, said though the impact of stubble burning is expected to reduce on 16 November (Saturday), high humidity due to isolated light rains may worsen the situation.

"Drizzle (last night) delayed the recovery and hence, improvement in ar quality is now expected only by 17 November (Sunday)," SAFAR said.

The Delhi government, meanwhile, said on Friday that a call on extending the Odd-Even road rationing scheme, which ended Friday, will be taken on Monday morning as air quality is expected to improve over the next two-three days.

Delhi MPs skip parliamentary meet on pollution

Only four MPs of a 28-member parliamentary panel attended a key meeting to discuss the air pollution crisis in Delhi-NCR on Friday, with the absentees including East Delhi parliamentarian Gautam Gambhir, top officials of the environment ministry, DDA and municipal commissioners, among others.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development had called the meeting with top officials of various government departments to discuss the air pollution in Delhi and the measures required to reduce it.  As many as 24 MPs from various parties did not attend the meeting, but the absence of Gambhir, the lone BJP leader from Delhi in the committee, snowballed into a political row as the AAP hit out at the saffron party over the issue and questioned its seriousness in tackling the crisis.

Cricketer-turned-politician Gambhir has been vocal about the alarming levels of air pollution in Delhi and has called for measures to curb the menace. Hitting out at Gambhir, the Aam Aadmi Party, in a tweet, said while MPs like him were busy enjoying, AAP's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh attended the meeting.

"Gautam Gambhir, is this the level of your seriousness regarding air pollution," the Arvind Kejriwal-led party tweeted.

In a statement, Gambhir said his work spoke for him, adding that if by criticising him, Delhi's pollution levels came down, then the AAP was free to do so.

Besides Singh, the three other MPs who attended the meeting were BJP's Jagdambika Pal who heads the panel, and CR Patil along with Hasnain Masoodi of the National Conference.

According to sources quoted by PTI, the members of the panel who attended the meeting were extremely upset with the absence of the environment secretary, the DDA chairman and officials of the three municipal corporations of the national capital, and were planning to raise the issue with the Lok Sabha Speaker. The members told junior officials to convey to their seniors that they should have attended the meeting, the report said.

Asked about the absence of his ministry officials from the meeting, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar said he would find out the details and investigate. "We are always very serious about pollution. I have emphasised that pollution is not only Delhi's problem. I have ordered a joint action plan. Teams are working with coordination," he said.

According to reports, the environment ministry said it was represented in the meeting by the deputy secretary and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) officials, adding that the joint secretary could not attend it as she was to appear in an important matter in the Supreme Court. The spokesperson also said that detailed notes were submitted to the urban development ministry.

One of the questions the panel members were planning to raise was: As there are about 50 lakh cars on the roads of Delhi, is the government coming up with any sort of carpool policy or regulation? The committee was to also ask the Delhi government for a quantitative and qualitative utilisation report of Rs 1,150 crore that the Centre had given to states in the last one year to combat air pollution along with 14,000 machines.

The third question to be raised pertained to the Supreme Court's recent observation that everybody, ranging from the secretary to the gram pradhan, will be held responsible for the losses due to air pollution. The committee was planning to ask the government whether it intended to define and fix responsibility through an internal mechanism.

The national capital is battling alarming levels of air pollution for the past few weeks. The air quality deteriorated further in the last four days, forcing the authorities to shut schools for two days. With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2019 23:59:24 IST