Delhi pollution: Air quality remains 'hazardous' in capital, NGT lambasts authorities for not heeding orders

Even as the capital continues to wrest with alarming levels of pollution, Delhi government authorities saw themselves at the receiving end of censure from the National Green Tribunal.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar slammed authorities for not complying with its earlier orders to decongest traffic and asked them to take steps in a holistic manner.

The NGT has directed the Delhi government and the municipal corporations to ensure availability of appropriate parking facilities for cars and discourage road-side parking.

A man stands on railway platform on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India, November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Saumya Khandelwal - RC17543624E0

A man stands on railway platform on a smoggy morning in New Delhi. Reuters

"Why have you not created an appropriate parking place for cars? You people are responsible for creating a mess on the roads by creating two to three lanes of parking. Why don't you cancel the agreements with contractors who abuse their terms? These parking people become officers and the traffic police just watch them," the bench said.

The green panel said that if new cars are being allowed to registered then they must be given proper parking spaces.

"For instance, the parking space at Sarojini Nagar remains empty, which is an undisputed fact. All the vehicles are permitted to be parked on roads where some contractors collect money and add to the congestion of traffic", the bench said.

"All the government authorities and corporations should take immediate and effective steps to rectify these discrepancies and ensure better co-ordination between the corporations, government, police, departments and contractors who are engaged for parking purposes," the bench added.

It also directed the AAP government and the traffic police to challan and seize 10-year-old diesel vehicles and 15-year-old petrol vehicles to curb air pollution in the city.

The counsel appearing for NCT Delhi has informed that the site has already been provided for keeping the vehicles which are impounded/seized by the police.

"We direct the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to ensure that vehicles which are violating the above directions of the tribunal should be seized and compliance report be submitted to the tribunal on the next date of hearing," the bench said.

This came a day after the Delhi government  called off the odd-even scheme, which was to be implemented for five days from Monday, after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the withdrawal of exemptions under it, including those extended to women and two-wheelers, when it was rolled out on two previous occasions.

"Odd-even was not to satisfy anybody's ego. Women being vulnerable cannot be exposed to risks. The Delhi government cannot risk the safety of women during odd-even period. Will not implement odd-even without exemptions to women," party's Delhi unit chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said.

The smog across the National Capital Region led to the cancellation of eight trains, while 34 were scheduled to arrive late, ANI reportedTwenty-one other trains were also rescheduled.

Air pollution levels shoot up

Pollution levels skyrocketed by the hour in Delhi on Sunday, turning the air quality hazardous, which agencies consider unfit for inhalation even by healthier people.
The hourly graph of the Central Control Room for Air Quality Management, which had briefly fallen below emergency levels on Saturday, recorded PM2.5 and PM10 concentration at 478 and 713 micrograms per cubic metre by afternoon.

The corresponding 24-hour safe standards are 60 and 100. Visibility came down below 100 metres at many places.

The air quality index of the CPCB had a score of 460, as against Saturday's 403. The most dominant pollutants were PM 2.5 and CO, according to the CPCB air bulletin.

People complained of a burning sensation in their eyes and heaviness in breathing, reflecting the severity of the pollution.

The PM2.5 reading of the Centre-run SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) was also above 400, which is in the severe category as well.

If the prevailing levels of PM2.5 and PM10 persist for another 24 hours, the odd-even scheme is supposed to be implemented, according to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) being enforced by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.

CPCB and SAFAR scientists maintained that the fresh spike in pollution was triggered mainly due to a drop in the inversion layer (the layer beyond which pollutants cannot disperse into the upper layer of the atmosphere), which in turn happened due to a sharp drop in minimum and maximum temperatures.

The CPCB's air lab chief Dipankar Saha said the haze was basically a mixture of dust and moisture. Formation of a thick cloud cover also resulted in the spike in moisture and drop in both minimum and maximum temperatures, he said.

The India Meteorological Department has predicted rain on 14 and 15 November in New Delhi, which could help in clearing the smog, the Hindustan Times reported.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Nov 12, 2017 19:44 PM

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