Delhi-NCR air quality improves to 'very poor', but agencies warn it will worsen to 'severe-plus emergency' after Diwali

Even as thick haze engulfed the national capital ahead of Diwali, pollution levels in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) improved to the "very poor" category on Tuesday after touching the "severe-plus emergency" category the previous day.

According to the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the National Capital Region (EPCA), the overall PM10 level in Delhi on Tuesday by the latest measure was 353 and the PM2.5 level was 225, both of which fall in the "very poor" category.

On Monday, PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations touched 365 and 503, respectively, which fall under the "severe-plus emergency" category, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. This was due to a change in the direction of winds and rampant stubble burning in the neighbouring states.

PM2.5 levels above 300 and PM10 levels above 430 are categorised under "severe-plus emergency".

AQI levels across Delhi as reported on SAFAR's website

AQI levels across Delhi as reported on SAFAR's website

Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida recorded "severe" pollution levels, while Gurugram recorded "very poor" air quality, CPCB data showed.

The Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research — commonly known as SAFAR — on Monday had said that Delhi's air quality is likely to deteriorate to the "severe-plus emergency" category after Diwali. Air quality will be "bad" on Thursday, 8 November — a day after Diwali — even if "partial toxic crackers" are used as compared to last year, SAFAR said.

The CPCB will hold a meeting with the transport department to discuss the deteriorating air quality in Delhi. A SAFAR official said intensified stubble burning was contributing nearly 24 percent to the air pollution in Delhi.

The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said biomass burning was also adding to the spike in the PM2.5 concentration in Delhi.

The pollution level in the region has been worsening even though the Delhi government has been trying to impose strict control measures. It had launched an aggressive 10-day 'Clean Air Campaign' on 1 November to monitor and report polluting activities. The government had also ordered a stop to all construction activities and regulation of vehicular traffic. All stone crushers and hot mix plants that add to the dust pollution have also been closed.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee has directed the transport department and the traffic police to intensify their drive against polluting vehicles till 10 November.

On Monday, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan had said no leniency would be shown to those violating pollution control norms. He had also warned of legal action against those found violating the regulations.

Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal has maintained that stubble burning in Punjab was the main reason behind the current cycle of air pollution in Delhi. On Sunday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had termed this claim as "nonsense". but satellite images by NASA have showed a large number of farm fires in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Sirsa and other areas of Punjab and Haryana.

Enforcement data, provided in response to an RTI query by activist Deepak Juneja, showed that despite the Delhi government deregistering 40 lakh old petrol and diesel vehicles to curb air pollution, only 3,196 vehicles have been impounded, which is less than 1 percent of the total.

With inputs from PTI


Updated Date: Nov 06, 2018 13:41 PM

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