New Delhi: The morning of November 5 was a hazy one for Delhiites. 14-year-old Rohan Joshi, resident of Anand Vihar, could not go to his school today as he woke up to a thick blanket of smog. The levels of the pollutant (particulate matter) PM2.5 at Anand Vihar, was at a “hazardous” 847 or over 33 times the safe limit prescribed by the WHO this morning as per the data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. PM2.5 are fine particles that rest inside the lungs and from there it travels into different parts of the body through the blood circulation, causing respiratory problems.
The levels of the pollutant PM10 were at a “hazardous” 1013 or over 20 times the safe limit prescribed by the WHO that is 50 μg/m3 as the 24-hour mean. Because of the smog, visibility was also low. But if we look back on Sunday (November 4), the air quality index (AQI) improved drastically and was recorded at 171 with PM2.5, PM10 and Ozone being the major pollutants, on the basis of 30 monitoring stations across the city. The major reason behind this was change in wind direction and increase in wind speed.
Talking to NDTV about the sudden change in AQI, Polash Mukherjee, Senior Research Associate, Centre for Science and Environment says,
Wind direction changed a couple of days ago and it was coming from the eastern direction which meant it was not coming directly from Punjab and Haryana region where stubble burning is prevalent. Because of increased wind speed and various air pollution control measures implemented by the government, decline in levels of pollutants were witnessed. What has happened today is wind direction has returned back to the south west direction. Also, there is a lot of moisture in the atmosphere because it rained and snowed in the upper regions, yesterday. So that moisture is adding to the higher pollution retention. Also, wind speed has dropped.
As per emergency action plan known as the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), when AQI crosses 500 mark, entry of trucks is to be banned in the city (except essential commodities), a blanket ban on construction activities and appointment of a task force to take additional decisions like shutting of schools, and other things will be implemented, but right now, most of these measures have not been enforced.
According to SAFAR – India (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), AQI in Delhi is expected to stabilise by evening and soon it will come in poor category. With Diwali being round the corner, the forecast seems a little doubtful.
As per SAFAR’s forecast, if no firecrackers are burned, PM 2.5 on the day of Diwali that is November 8 will stand at 378, falling under ‘very poor’ category. But if 50 per cent polluted firecrackers are burned of Diwali 2017, AQI will shoot up to ‘severe’ 575.
D Saha, former additional director and head of air quality management division at the CPCB, told PTI,
No drastic change in pollution level is anticipated as the ground level emissions are under control due to various administrative and regulatory measures, and we are likely to have a clean Diwali.
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 pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.