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Delhi’s Air Quality Remains Poor; Environment Minister Directs Officials To Be In ‘War Mode’

Delhi’s air quality remained in the ‘poor’ category on Tuesday, as parts of the Bhalswa landfill site continued to smoulder

New Delhi: Delhi’s air quality continued to be in the ‘poor’ category on Tuesday, with the Environment minister Imran Hussain directing all officers and agencies to be in “war mode” to combat air pollution. As parts of the Bhalswa landfill site continued to smoulder, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation announced a slew of measures that it will take for remediation of the over 60-metre high dump. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that people in the country can burst firecrackers from 8 PM to 10 PM only on Diwali and other festivals, permitting the sale and manufacture of low emission “green” firecrackers countrywide.

Environment and health experts welcomed the order, with some describing it as a “spectacular” decision, while others saying it was time the society celebrated festive occasions “more responsibly”.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded the city’s overall AQI at 254 in the evening. An AQI (air quality index) between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.
The air quality in the national capital had shown signs of improvement Monday as it moved from ‘very poor’ to ‘poor’ category, but experts said it could deteriorate in the coming days due to toxic air coming out of a fire at the Bhalswa landfill site.

Also Read: Air Pollution: What Is Being Done About The Sources That Continue To Pollute Delhi, Ask Experts

The fire had been raging at the Bhalswa landfill site since October 20, raising concerns about the air quality in the National Capital Region (NCR) further deteriorating. The fire was extinguished last evening. A senior DFS official, however, Tuesday said parts of the dump site continued to smoulder.

In Delhi, the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) also reported an AQI in the ‘poor’ category. Faridabad, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad recorded AQI in the ‘poor’ category while Gurgaon’s AQI stood in ‘very poor’ category.

Meanwhile, Environment minister Imran Hussain held a multi-stakeholder review meet for effectively checking air pollution.

“The environment minister directed all officers and agencies to be in war mode to combat air pollution,” the Environment department said in a statement. He reviewed action plan of various stakeholders for implementing the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) mandated by the Supreme Court for combatting and mitigating air pollution in Delhi.

The meeting was attended by the chief secretary, commissioners of the north, south and east corporations, chairman of New Delhi Municipal Council, secretary (environment), secretary (transport & power), special secretary (industries), chief engineer (PWD) along with other senior officers, it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, North Delhi Mayor Adesh Gupta and Municipal Commissioner Madhup Vyas visited the Bhalswa landfill site Tuesday, with the civic body announcing a slew of measures that it will take for its remediation, even as parts of the over 60 meter-high garbage dump continued to smoulder, officials said.

Three immediate major decisions were taken, which included reinforcement of the barbed wire, deployment of a police team to restrict entry of ragpickers and night vigil by the staff stationed at the site, a senior NDMC official in the Engineering department told PTI.

Also Read:  Air Pollution : Delhi’s Air Quality Dives To Severe Category After Dussehra; Dwarka Chokes On Burning Garbage

The mayor also decided that a “global tender” would soon be invited for remediation of the Bhalswa landfill site, the official said.

“The Bhalswa landfill site is spread over 70 acres, rising 62 meters. About 2,000 metric tonne of garbage is being dumped on it on a daily basis and currently it has 80 lakh metric tonne of garbage,” the mayor was quoted as saying in an NDMC statement.

On Sunday, the air quality index (AQI) had oscillated between ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ categories and Monday had improved to ‘poor’ while on Saturday, a haze had engulfed the national capital and the worst air quality of this season was recorded at 324.

Anumita Roy Chowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Monday said as winter approaches toxic air emanating out of such landfill fires is likely to affect the air quality.

If the wind speed is lower and the temperature dips, the polluted air coming out of landfill fires will get trapped, which would severely affect the air quality, she said.

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Protection Control Authority (EPCA) had last week held a meeting with officials of Punjab, Haryana governments and the Delhi government to discuss the pollution situation in the national capital. In the meeting, the three municipal corporations and the New Delhi Municipal Council were directed to ensure that keeping of uncovered building material was not permitted on their respective roads.

They were also directed to ensure that the conditions laid down in sanctioned building plan for construction of building are strictly followed by owners and builders for effective control of dust, the statement said.

It was also decided that two joint teams of officials from the revenue department, municipal corporations and Civil Defence Volunteers are deputed in each district for monitoring construction activity and taking preventing and punitive action against the violators of dust control norms, it said.

Mr. Hussain also directed the Delhi Metro to ensure that construction activity does not lead to aggravation of air pollution in Delhi. Industries Department and DSIIDC were directed to put into action the plan for proper disposal of waste generated by the industrial units especially in Narela and Bawana Industrial areas.

Also Read:  Fire At Bhalswa Landfill Site ‘Almost’ Brought Under Control

The minister also urged all three municipal commissioners to ensure control of instances of burning in the open and compliance of dust control measures, failing which senior officers should be held accountable. Mr. Hussain also directed the PWD and Delhi Fire Services to undertake water sprinkling especially after Diwali for settling the suspended dust particles.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollutionclean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.

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