New Delhi: The National Capital Region (NCR) welcomed the year 2019 with the air quality index (AQI) of over 500, several notches more than the levels recommended by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines. As the winter winds calmed and the summer arrived, the AQI showed considerable improvement – going as low as 103 in March. However, the first week of May saw the air quality deteriorate from poor to very poor as the AQI on Wednesday was recorded at 341.
According to the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), Delhi’s AQI is expected to deteriorate further to ‘severe’ category due to dust storm in northwest India.
According to the CPCB guidelines, an AQI 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’.
Talking to PTI about the deteriorating air quality in the city, Gufran Beig, a scientist from SAFAR said,
It is predicted that northwest India, including north Gujarat, Rajasthan, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi are going to observe a dust storm from tonight.
He further added,
As the storm dust is now arrested in Delhi and combining with local dust lifting, further deterioration of air quality is expected for today and tomorrow. Air quality is predicted to touch severe category late tonight and will continue to be so till May 10.
Mr. Beig also explained that the “origin of the current episode” is widespread dust from dry arid west Rajasthan region due to high temperature and favourable wind speed. He said,
However, post May 10, the national capital’s air quality is expected to improve due to western disturbance and thunderstorm. But occasional episodes of sudden peaking of dust at isolated places in Delhi cannot be ruled out.
The Dire Issue Of Air Pollution In India
According to a study by Greenpeace, 15 out of the top 20 polluted cities in the world are in India. The report also states that Gurugram is the most polluted city in the world while Delhi is the most polluted capital city in the world. The US-based Health Effects Institute report revealed that around 1.2 million people were killed in India in 2017 due to air pollution.
Amidst the on-going election season, various environment activists have criticised the contesting candidates and political parties who have not given the issue of air pollution enough recognition. Stressing on how important the issue is, Ravina Kohli, activist and founder of ‘My Right To Breathe’ movement, says that even though air pollution got a mention in various political manifestos, it is still on the back seat as none of the parties gave details on what actions they will take to combat the deadly issue.
Every year lakhs of people suffer due to pollution but we have still not taken cognizance of emergency levels of toxicity in the air. I think we need a stronger political will to urgently tackle the pollution crisis in the country.
With inputs from PTI.
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.