New Delhi: As Delhiites struggle to breathe under the ‘severe’ levels of air pollutants for the third day, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has asked for all construction activity and stone crushing to be stopped in Delhi-NCR. Along with this, fire brigade has been asked to sprinkle water across Delhi to bring down the dust and particulate matter (PM) suspended in the air. The CPCB also asked municipal corporation to bring in road sweeping machines to keep the dust off the streets. Given the ‘severe’ situation, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal held an emergency meeting with Environment Minister Imran Hussain and other officials. Mr Baijal and other officials approved of halt in civil construction activities till June 17.
Held emergency meeting in view of severe dust pollution in Delhi with Hon Min @ImranHussaain & officials.Emergency measures like stoppage of all civil construction activities till 17th June.More monitoring by agencies like NHAI,DMRC, MCDs,PWD & NBCC etc. for ensuring compliance. pic.twitter.com/MvUOXumoJJ
— LG Delhi (@LtGovDelhi) June 14, 2018
Central Control Room for Air Quality Management- Delhi-NCR recorded the level of particulate matter 10 (PM10), particles with diameter less than 10mm, at 759.6 at 4 PM on June 14. The recorded PM10 is not only way beyond the annual permissible limits of 60ug/m3, but also way above the ‘severe’ level of air quality index (AQI) which is in the range of 401-500. Some areas like East Delhi’s Anand Vihar recorded a PM10 level of 929. The continuous rise in level of pollutants for past three days has been attributed to dust storms in Western India, particularly Rajasthan, accompanied with high-speed winds (30-40 kmph) and has led to hazy conditions, limiting visibility in the Capital.
Expert View On Severe Air Quality In Delhi
As per the forecast made by Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the current dusty conditions will prevail for another three days. Most of the dust is basically coarse particles that are PM10. PM10 is not capable of entering lungs so they won’t impact the lungs in toxic manner as compared to PM2.5, ultra-fine particles that reach lungs. But at the same time, presence of high levels of PM10 will give you lot of discomfort, when you are exposed to outdoor conditions for long. Children, elderly and people who are known for having respiratory issues should avoid staying out for long hours, says A Sudhakar, Member Secretary, CPCB, while speaking to NDTV.
Talking about the current state of pollution and its source, A. Sudhakar, says,
While 500 mg/m3 of dust is coming from outside, 300 mg/m3 is in within Delhi from local sources. Together they make to 800 and from past two days, AQI is fluctuating between 770 and 820. Next two, three days are severe and the least we can do is control the dust from local sources.
Visuals of dust and haze from Delhi's Rajpath area, prominent pollutant PM 10 at 262 in 'poor' category. pic.twitter.com/cenNyuSeGo
— ANI (@ANI) June 14, 2018
The last time Delhi faced such severe pollution conditions was in November and December 2017 when AQI oscillated between ‘severe’and ’emergency’ levels. Back then, the reason behind ‘severe’ levels of pollution was dust from construction and demolition, stubble burning, vehicular emission, smoke from factories and industries, and burning of fossil fuels. Measures that were implemented back then to deal with the rise in levels of pollution included – closure of schools, industrial activities, civil construction, waste burning and entry of trucks being banned. Along with this, metro trips and public transport buses were increased in numbers and parking fees was increased by four times to discourage the use of private vehicles.