by Elton Gomes
Delhi’s air quality has returned to the poor category due to a change in direction of wind, which is now flowing from stubble burning areas in Punjab and Haryana, authorities said on Monday.
The national capital’s air quality on Sunday had improved to moderate level with an index of 181. However, on Monday, the air quality slipped to poor category with the Air Quality Index (AQI) at 235, according to data at the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), PTI reported.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor, and 401-500 severe.
An official at the Central Pollution Control Board said that air quality has declined as pollution in Delhi was on the rise. The PM10 level (presence of particles with a diametre less than 10 mm) was at 230 in Delhi and the PM2.5 level (presence of particles with a diametre less than 2.5 mm) in the city was 101, according to data provided by SAFAR.
SAFAR has predicted a further deterioration in Delhi’s air quality over the next two days, wherein the PM10 could reach 264 and PM2.5 could stand at 111 in the next three days.
Delhi’s air pollution worst in four years
In June 2018, air pollution levels in Delhi and surrounding areas deteriorated to extremely hazardous levels, and it was considered the worst in four years. Such a strong decline was felt as strong wind from arid regions in the west began showering dust particles over the capital. However, the situation was likely to show some improvement.
The weather office said that northern India usually gets very dusty during this time of the year before monsoon rainfall clears the air, but this year’s pollution level has been the worst in four years.
What has the Delhi government done to reduce pollution
The Delhi government’s steps seemed to have proved ineffective in battling pollution. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal proposed the odd/even rule wherein cars with odd-numbered registration plates would ply on odd dates and those with even-numbered registration plates would do so on even dates. The idea was to reduce congestion as well as pollution. However, CM Kejriwal’s plan turned out to be a failure due to poor implementation.
The Delhi government then though of imposing an environment compensation penalty of Rs 50,000 on 38 major projects across the city for causing dust pollution. Officials said that notices were sent to all the projects. However, 26 projects had not filed their replies.
What can be done to tackle Delhi’s pollution
To eradicate pollution, the Delhi government can undertake a plantation drive. It should launch a campaign to plant trees in the city. Fresh air could be the only way to counter excessive amount of pollutants that have enveloped the air of Delhi-NCR.
Stubble burning has been another problem plaguing Delhi and surrounding areas. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the state governments of Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh to immediately ban the burning of crop residue. The NGT had previously noted that the practice was contributing to the increasing air pollution in the NCR region, and hence such a move could give residents the much-needed relief from pollution.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had issued directions to all authorities so that they implement previous orders concerning the ban on burning of waste and impose a fine on the emission of construction dust.
The bench had also called for action as well as a “list of offenders” on the subsequent date of hearing. Hence, tightening the norms over environmental pollution could help in reducing pollution in Delhi.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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