Air quality index of Delhi 'severely' deteriorates ahead of Diwali; here's how to be safe
The increase in pollution levels comes despite strict control measures imposed by the government in Delhi. It has launched an aggressive 10-day 'Clean Air Campaign' from November 1 to monitor and report polluting activities and ordered halting of construction activities and regulating vehicular traffic.
On Sunday, Delhiites had breathed the cleanest air in three weeks, according to Central Pollution Control Board data. The air quality turned severe for the first time this season on October 30. Also, the PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) and PM10 concentrations spiked to 'severe-plus emergency' category at 361 and 500 respectively, according to CPCB data.
Officials attributed the sudden deterioration to a change in wind direction, now blowing from the northwestern region towards Delhi, bring with it dust and smoke from stubble burning in neighbouring states. An official with the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research said intensified stubble burning is presently contributing nearly 24 per cent of the air pollution in the national capital.
The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, too, said the increase in PM2.5 concentration is due to a change in the wind direction and because of contribution from biomass burning. The increase in pollution levels comes despite strict control measures imposed by the government in Delhi. It has launched an aggressive 10-day 'Clean Air Campaign' from November 1 to monitor and report polluting activities and ordered halting of construction activities and regulating vehicular traffic.
Civil construction has been suspended in Delhi and surrounding areas of the National Capital Region. All stone crushers and hot mix plants generating 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 until November 10.
Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said Monday that no leniency would be shown to those who are violating pollution-control norms. He again warned that legal actions were being initiated against people violating regulations.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has blamed stubble burning in Punjab as the main reason behind the current cycle of air pollution in Delhi. On Sunday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed his claim "nonsense". But NASA registered a large number of fire counts in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Sirsa and other areas of Punjab and Haryana.
Also, enforcement data provide in response to an RTI query by activist activist Deepak Juneja has showed that despite the Delhi government deregistering 40 lakh old vehicles to curb air pollution, only 3,196 vehicles have been impounded, which is less than 1 per cent of the total. Two agencies are responsible for enforcing the ban on 15-year old petrol vehicles and 10-year old diesel vehicles imposed by the National Green Tribunal in 2014 Delhi traffic police and transport department of the Delhi government.
With alarming air quality and "deadly cocktail" of pollution surrounding major cities, here are some points to keep yourself safe:
• Make choices to drive less toxic automobiles
• Switch to a hybrid vehicle, or better yet, one that runs on fully electric.
• Take public transportation
• Carpooling with friends and colleagues
• Ride a bicycle to your destination.
• Be energy efficient and turn off the lights, TV, and any other electronic appliances before leaving home
• Find ways to promote and educate the public on clean energy alternatives. A small contribution goes a long way in the grand scheme of things.
• Cigarette smoke contains up to 70 carcinogenic substances and toxins that remain in the indoor air for a long time.
• Plant trees.
• Trees around your house and in your neighborhood will help reduce air pollutants.
• Recycle. Recycling can help reduce air pollution.
• Instead of throwing away used containers and material, try reusing them or recycling them to be used again by someone else.
Read More| Air pollution: Dos and Don'ts
(With inputs from PTI)
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