Delhi chokes as pollution levels hit the worst this year

Cristina Cross
December 27, 2018

Delhi is ranked among the world's worst cities in air quality, after years of breakneck growth in auto sales and coal-fired power generation. The air quality index (AQI), the overall marker for the city's air pollution was 409 while on Monday it had touched 450.

During October and November, the federal government had blamed neighbouring states for failing to curb the burning of stubble in fields, but Delhi's air worsened in December, data showed. In the Wazirpur area, the air quality also dipped to the severe category with 400.

Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, Vijender Gupta, alleged that the city government had "done nothing" to solve the problem of pollution during its stint in power over the last four years.

According to SAFAR, Delhi's overall air quality is expected to improve due to increased wind speed. In Anand Vihar area, the Air Quality Index (AQI) PM 2.5 was at 358 and PM 10 at 259.

The Environment Pollution Control and Prevention Authority (EPCA) has directed traffic police to deploy special teams and ensure congestion-free vehicular movement, particularly in identified high traffic corridors.

"The wind speed and ventilation index are highly unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants", it said.

CPCB chairman S P Singh Parihar said the deterioration of the air quality will continue till Tuesday morning.

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"Moderate foggy conditions will prevail for the next two days over Delhi and surrounding regions and may not allow significant improvement", the SAFAR said. The odd-even auto scheme, much like last time, will aim to reduce the vehicle footprint on roads in a bid to curb air pollution.

In NCR, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida recorded "severe" pollution levels while Gurgaon recorded "very poor" air quality, CPCB data showed.

The overall PM2.5 level - fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometer - was recorded at 249 and the PM10 level at 378 here, the CPCB said.

"There is a lack of political will to take required measures on a sustained basis to contain pollution levels", said Sunil Dahiya, a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India.

Dahiya also said the government should immediately close down schools and urge people to curtail outdoor activities given the serious health effects of the current pollution levels. "Most complaints are about waste burning", he said.

The residents of national capital had no respite from bad air quality even on Christmas as Delhi continued to remain under "severe" air pollution on Tuesday for the fourth consecutive day along with cold wave. A ventilation index lower than 6000 sqm/second, with average wind speed less than 10 kmph, is unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants.

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