By Elton Gomes
On Wednesday, a thick haze engulfed Delhi as the air quality was recorded in the ‘very poor’ category. Delhi’s overall air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 316, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.
The CPCB said 22 areas of Delhi recorded ‘very poor’ air quality while 13 areas recorded ‘poor’ air quality. The level of PM2.5, which is particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, was recorded at 159, whereas PM10 level was recorded at 316, as per the CPCB.
NCR (National Capital Region), Ghaziabad, Faridabad, and Noida recorded ‘very poor’ air quality while Gurugram recorded ‘poor’ air quality, the CPCB data revealed.
The worst air quality was recorded at Narela, wherein the AQI was recorded at 449, which means that it is in the ‘hazardous’ category. Experts have predicted that the air pollution will continue to engulf the capital and its surrounding areas for the next couple of days.
News agency ANI reported that all other meteorological factors are unfavourable and are likely to remain so at least for the next two days.
On November 26, media reports mentioned that Delhi’s AQI was recorded at 262 till 8 am, which falls under the poor category. The air quality is expected to turn very poor in the next few days, System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said in a statement.
Supreme Court cracks down on Centre, civic agencies
As Delhi’s air quality continued to fluctuate between “poor” and “very poor” categories, the Supreme Court criticised the Centre and civic agencies for inaction over pollution-related complaints. The apex court said that the local agencies have failed to address the grievances of the citizens.
Responding to the Supreme Court, the Centre said that 749 pollution complaints were received through social media and over 3,000 through the “Sameer” app – a mobile application launched by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) wherein people can register pollution-related complaints. The app was functional from November 1 to 24.
The Centre said that some complaints have been dealt with, while others are pending because they have to be addressed by local agencies.
Lashing out at civic agencies, the Supreme Court said, “Prosecute the local agencies. Send them to jail. That is the only option left,” MirrorNow reported.
The court said that the local agencies have failed to address the grievances of citizens and someone should be put behind the bars. “This is only option left,” the court said. To which, the Centre replied that it will take appropriate action against such agencies, as per a Financial Express report.
Delhi government proposes electric vehicle policy
In a major move to fight air pollution, the Delhi government on Tuesday released its draft “Electric Vehicle Policy 2018”. The draft policy seeks to the adoption of 25 percent e-vehicles among new registrations by 2023.
Speaking on the policy, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said: “About 30 per cent of particulate pollution in winter is caused by vehicles. A rapid adoption of zero-emission electric vehicles is therefore of great importance to Delhi,” IANS reported.
The Transport Department said that this policy is committed to strengthen the infrastructure for “battery charging and swapping” so as to provide access to charging stations within a 3-kilometre range from anywhere in Delhi.
Delhi to focus on air pollution in Master Plan 2041
Tackling air pollution is likely to be one of the focus areas of the national capital’s next Master Plan. A Master Plan is a blueprint for urban development that lays down guidelines on how and where Delhi builds its homes, offices, schools and industrial zones.
Officials involved in drawing up Master Plan of Delhi-2041 (MPD-2041) said they have been assessing pollution and traffic data and comparing it with advanced geographical information to get a grip on what factors could be affecting air quality.
The solutions could include planning for more green areas, encouraging residents to walk more walking by making better pavements and transit networks, and introducing changes that could limit or re-route the entry of heavy vehicles, which have been one of the most prominent sources of pollution.
Delhi’s air quality affects life expectancy
People in India would live an average 4.3 years longer if the country met the global guidelines for particulate pollution, according to a study on the effects of pollution on life expectancy.
According to the new Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), which was developed by researchers at the University of Chicago in the US, particulate air pollution reduces global average life expectancy by 1.8 years per person.
The study noted that “The impact of particulate pollution on life expectancy is comparable to that of smoking, twice that of alcohol and drug use, three times that of unsafe water, five times that of HIV/AIDS, and more than 25 times that of conflict and terrorism,” as per PTI report.
The study indicated that over the past two decades, the concentration of fine particulates increased by 69 percent on an average across India. This increase in fine particles has reduced the life expectancy of a typical Indian citizen by 4.3 years compared to 2.2 years in 1998.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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