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Delhi Records Season's Worst Air Quality Ahead of Diwali, EPCA Announces Stricter Steps

The city's overall air quality index (AQI) fluctuated between 315 and 284 on Friday, while it was 311 on Thursday evening. Most of the places in Delhi recorded the AQI in the 'very poor' category, while the situation inched towards 'severe' in some areas.

PTI

Updated:October 25, 2019, 8:46 PM IST
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Delhi Records Season's Worst Air Quality Ahead of Diwali, EPCA Announces Stricter Steps
A view of Rajpath road engulfed in haze in New Delhi on Thursday (PTI)

New Delhi: Two days before Diwali, Delhi's air quality dropped to season's worst on Friday, with the decreased wind speed leading to accumulation of pollutants and affecting dispersion.

The city's overall air quality index (AQI) fluctuated between 315 and 284 on Friday, while it was 311 on Thursday evening.

Most of the places in Delhi recorded the AQI in the "very poor" category, while the situation inched towards "severe" in some areas.

The AQI in Nehru Nagar, Ashok Vihar, Jahangirpuri, Rohini, Wazirpur, Bawana, Mundka and Anand Vihar was 340, 335, 339, 349, 344, 363, 381 and 350 respectively, according to Central Pollution Control Board.

The AQI in the neighbouring cities of Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Gurgaon and Noida was 312, 336, 311, 312 and 320 respectively.

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'.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality forecast and research service, SAFAR, said, "The overall air quality is in the very poor category. Calm winds on Thursday night led to the deterioration of AQI."

A sharp deterioration of air quality, to the higher end of the very poor category, is likely on Saturday, it said.

In its Diwali forecast on Sunday, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said the highest impact of fire cracker emissions is expected from 1-6 am on Monday.

The impact of stubble burning is expected to be moderate and, if no additional emissions due to firecrackers occur, then the air quality would remain in middle range of very poor category on Sunday and Monday.

"However, if 50 percent of the total load of firecrackers (average of Diwali 2017 and 18) is added, the AQI may plunge to the severe category for a short period," it said.

The share of stubble burning in Delhi's PM 2.5 concentration is predicted to be 18 per cent on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority said on Friday the construction activities in Delhi and satellite towns would be banned between 6 pm-6 am from Saturday to Wednesday.

In a letter to chief secretaries of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, EPCA chairman Bhure Lal also issued directions to close down coal-based industries, barring power plants, in satellite towns of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Sonepat and Bahadurgarh during the period.

The ban follows a slew of recommendations from a 10-member anti-pollution task force led by CPCB Member Secretary Prashant Gargava.

Further, in a move which will also ensure cleanliness, the Delhi government decided on Friday to deduct a part of salaries of executive engineers of PWD and other agencies if they fail to remove construction and demolition waste and garbage from roads and areas under their control. The decision came at a high-level meeting chaired by Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev.

At the meeting, Dev also directed departments concerned and municipal corporations that action plans regarding the city's 13 pollution hot spots should be given highest priority and action points be completed within two weeks.

He directed that construction and demolition waste and garbage dumped around these hot spots be cleared within 24 hours and day and night patrolling intensified to prevent further illegal dumping.

"It was decided that executive engineers of PWD and other agencies who are negligent in getting the dumps (of waste) removed from the roads and areas under their control should be held personally responsible and appropriate deduction from their salary be effected to send a clear signal that negligence in such emergent situation will not be tolerated," an official who attended the meeting said.

Dev directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to levy penalty on both private and government agencies "responsible for creation of illegal dumps in areas falling under their jurisdiction".

The DPCC has already imposed fines up to Rs 12.5 crore on both private and government agencies.

Dev also directed municipal corporations to used chemical suppressants recommended by CPCB to prevent road dust re-suspensions.

More than 300 water sprinklers have been procured by the civic bodies. They have been directed to use the machines effectively along the major corridors and around the 13 hot spots, the official said.

If required, additional water sprinklers can be hired on priority basis, he added.

A DPCC official said it has carried out inspections and prepared inventory of sites where construction and demolition waste and garbage was found strewn around.

The lists have been forwarded to the respective municipal corporations, PWD and DDA to clear these dumps.

When pointed out that the Public Works Department has been relatively slack in clearing the C&D waste dumped on its roads, the chief secretary directed it to get its act together and clear the illegal dumps on its roads.

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