By Elton Gomes
Delhi’s air quality worsened on Monday after the levels of particulate matter increased up to four times above the permissible mark after a gap of four months.
The rise of pollutants in the air can be attributed to stubble burning, considered to be a primary cause behind the spike in pollution. If people continue to burn crops in Punjab and Haryana, conditions could deteriorate further, according to an early warning system run by Pune’s Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).
On Monday, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) was 367, which indicates ‘very poor’ air quality. On a scale of 0-500, AQI in the range of 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’.
“This is the sixth consecutive day that the air quality has remained in the very poor category,” an official from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said, Hindustan Times reported.
Situation likely to worsen
Conditions in the satellite towns of Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad, and Ghaziabad were also beginning to deteriorate, with the air quality in Ghaziabad breaching the ‘severe’ level. The AQI was 430 in Ghaziabad.
The official from the CPCB said that there was an increase in levels of PM10 and PM2.5, after they were found hovering around four times the permissible limits. Such high levels of particulate matter were last seen in the second week of June after a huge amount of dust gushed into Delhi-NCR due to a dust storm in Rajasthan.
SAFAR has predicted that toxic fumes from stubble-burning regions of Punjab and Haryana will gush in and worsen the situation. It further said that pollution is likely to increase faster by tomorrow and day after, after which it would then slow down.
“Air quality index will be in the upper level of very poor for the next three days. The main reason is heavy biomass burning in past 24-hours and local calm winds,” SAFAR said, as per a PTI report.
113 industries asked to shut
Keeping in mind the poor air quality in Delhi, authorities have asked 113 industries to shut down for not converting to Piped Natural Gas (PNG), an official statement said on Monday. Of the 113 units, 67 are located in Bawana and Narela industrial areas, the statement said.
Officials informed Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal that the Delhi Pollution Control Committee issued 1,368 show cause notices and 417 closure directions against polluting units.
The meeting was chaired by Baijal and also had Environment Minister Imran Hussain, Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) chairman Bhure Lal, and other senior officials in attendance.
SC orders CPCB to set up social media account to file pollution complaints; impounds old vehicles
Cracking the whip on the Centre, the Supreme Court on Monday asked its counsel to try taking an evening walk to better understand the situation. During the hearing, the amicus curiae told the apex court that the situation is so bad that people are forced to stay indoors.
The Supreme Court directed the CPCB to set up a social media account wherein people can file complaints against those who flout pollution norms.
The Supreme Court also ordered the transport department and the CPCB to list out all the older vehicles on their websites so that they can be impounded. The CPCB also suggested certain stringent measures, which include the closure of all construction activities that generate dust pollution between November 1 and 10.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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