Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Ahead of Diwali, Delhi’s air quality remains ‘poor’

The Government of Delhi announced the closure of schools from Nov 9-18 as Delhi air quality dips down to the “severe” category (AQI 400+) for the first time in the year as per data released by CPCB.
Photo: Muhammed Dilshad K

The air quality in Delhi on the morning of Diwali saw a marginal dip and remained in the ‘poor’ category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Previous years had shown a trend of air quality plummeting much worse post-Diwali. Previous years had shown a trend of air quality plummeting much worse post-Diwali. 

There is no rain expected on Sunday in Delhi. The minimum and maximum temperatures are expected to stay at 14 degrees Celsius and 28 degrees Celsius.

On Saturday, the Delhi health department also advised people to avoid outdoor walks, burning of firecrackers and exposure to air pollution.

Earlier, The Government of Delhi announced the closure of schools from Nov 9-18 as Delhi air quality dips down to the “severe” category (AQI 400+) for the first time in the year as per data released by CPCB.

Delhi’s atmosphere remains covered with thick toxic haze.

Anand-Vihar hit AQI 882 on Oct 7 at 9 AM. The prescribed AQI rate by doctors and health practitioners is 50 and below. 10 times lower of which Delhi bears.

Commuters and residents of Delhi complained of breathing problems. Commuters and residents in the NCR and Delhi raising concerns over the issue, urging authorities to take immediate measures to tackle the air pollution prevailing in Delhi.

Anmol Singh, a Law student, said, “Every Year we go through the same problem during these months, despite these there are no effective measures taken by the government.”

A division bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia gave orders to state governments to curb air pollution. The order included a ban on stubble burning and a meeting to be held by chief secretaries of concerned states (Punjab, Haryana, UP, Delhi).

The top courts order to curb NCR’s air pollution include:

Making the police responsible for stopping stubble burning in the concerned states, real-time monitoring of AQI, Municipal solid waste not being burned in the open, and Re-consideration of Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009.

The court also criticized the odd-even scheme as an unscientific method and inefficiency of smog towers to reduce air pollution particles.

“Delhi (government) to follow Supreme Court guidelines,” said Gopal Rai, Environment Minister of Delhi. The government banned all kinds of construction (with exemption) and non-essential trucks from Noida to the capital as per the implementation of GRAP (Graded Response Action Plan) IV.

The measures taken by the Delhi government are the closure of schools, ban on construction, and ban on non-essential trucks to the city, and announced the implementation of the odd-even scheme back after Diwali.

Usually, for the past decade, Delhi had to bear poor air quality, especially during winter. Delhi’s poor air quality is equal to consuming 31 cigarettes a day. The report “Air Quality Life Index” published by the University of Chicago reveals a decline of 11.9 years of life for Delhi residents.

Out of 10 polluted cities in the world 7 are Indian cities. Delhi is ranked 2nd in the same list. NCR has highest share of PM 2.5 for the past 5 years among the other cities. A study by Respires report reveals a consistent rise of PM 2.5 in the past 2 years. PM 2.5 causes many fatal diseases like Asthma, heart attack and other respiratory disease. 

“As students from other states, we find it even more difficult to cope with this great menace. From morning to evening all we can see is smoke-filled air, due to which many of us are suffering from serious respiratory problems like asthma, cough and various other allergies. We also experience burning, redness, irritation, and eyes watering due to prolonged exposure to pollutants,” Huda Aysha, a student from Kerala, said.

The major factor in Delhi’s air pollution is stubble burning. Stubble burning—which largely takes place in the agricultural states of Punjab and Haryana. It has indicated that Delhi’s meteorology might have played a major part in Delhi breathing toxic smog this year.

Analyzing the wind trajectory data reveals a strong correlation between the wind direction originating from Punjab and Haryana and the resulting pollution levels in Delhi.

There is a 740% increase in farm fires in the state of Punjab. Alternatives to stubble burning are expensive. Another factor in air pollution in Delhi is vehicular emission.

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