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Late Withdrawal of Monsoon Likely to Affect Air Quality in Delhi, EPCA Asks State Govt to Stay Vigil

The EPCA chairman said the monitoring plans with details of area specific tasks, nodal officers and patrolling periodicity will be submitted to EPCA and CPCB by october 15.


Updated:October 9, 2019, 8:45 PM IST
Late Withdrawal of Monsoon Likely to Affect Air Quality in Delhi, EPCA Asks State Govt to Stay Vigil
A traffic policeman wears a mask to protect himself from dust and air pollution as he stands on a road divider in New Delhi.

New Delhi: A day after Dussehra celebrations, the air quality in the city was reported to be moderate on Wednesday but it is likely to deteriorate if monsoon withdrawal from northwest India stretches to the end of this month, an official said.

According to SAFAR, a unit under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 in Delhi was in the satisfactory range while PM 10 in moderate category, indicating that larger particulate matter is the main pollutant ay present.

There is still a lot of monsoon moisture in and around Delhi due to high wind speed and this helped disperse pollutants, System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) programme director Gurfan Beig said.

However, it may change due to the late withdrawal of monsoon from northwest India.

Beig said the retreat of monsoon coincides with anti-cyclonic circulation. "The late monsoon withdrawal is not good news for air quality in North India. During the third to fourth week of October, the temperature will also start to cool," he said.

"The anticyclone, which forms immediately after the withdrawal and associated with clear skies and sinking motion, will make the atmosphere very stable beneath means significantly calm surface winds," Beig said.

This will lead to stagnant weather conditions like low wind speed, descending air and compressed boundary layer, which favour rapid fine particulate matter formation and accumulation of pollutants, he added.

"The situation becomes worse if it is encountered with any additional internal (like firecrackers) or external (like stubble) emission source. In a landlocked city like Delhi, it may lead to rapid accumulation and may trigger extended extreme pollution events," he added.

However, if local emissions are controlled it will be a good check to observe and avoid air quality crises, he added.

The monsoon retreat begun from northwest India on Wednesday, more than a month after its normal withdrawal date.

Meanwhile, the EPCA on Wednesday directed the Delhi government to get ready to monitor the city's pollution hotspots and take other measures including a possible hike in vehicle parking charges in view of deteriorating air quality in the national capital.

The Supreme Court mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) chairman Bhurelal in a letter to the Delhi Chief Secretary said: "EPCA is directing measures under 'very poor/severe' category of graded response action plan(GRAP) from October 15."

The EPCA has directed Delhi and neighbouring Haryana to come up with a clear action plan by October 15 to monitor pollution hotspots.

Delhi has 14 of the hotspots including Okhla Phase II, Dwarka, Ashok Vihar, Bawana, Narelaa, Anand Vihar, R K Puram, Mayapuri, Rohini, Wazirpur among others.

Those in neighbouring states include Gurgaon, Faridabad, Bahadurgarh (Haryana), Sahibabad (Uttar Pradesh) and Bhiwari (Rajasthan).

The EPCA chairman said the monitoring plans with details of area specific tasks, nodal officers and patrolling periodicity will be submitted to EPCA and CPCB by october 15.

Monitoring will be done to ensure no waste and garbage is burnt and full compliance of other measures.

Further, he said that the charges for parking as per the new parking policy notified by Delhi government should be decided at the earliest so that these can be implemented by October 15.

"GRAP provides for enhancement of these charges during high pollution period and this can only be done once the charges as provided in the policy are mandated and implemented," he said.

The EPCA has been advised by the task force on GRAP chaired by secretary of CPCB that the coming period beginning October 12, is projected to have adverse weather conditions, which will exacerbate the potential for pollution.

"The region is already in the 'moderate/poor' category in terms of air quality and therefore all efforts have to be made to ensure that the levels do not rise further even with adverse weather," Bhurelal said.

The EPCA in its meeting on October 7 decided that there is a need to bring in additional measures to combat pollution to contain any increase in it.

The pollution watchdog has also directed the Chief Secretary for mechanised sweeping of roads in shifts both during the day and night and that water be sprinkled on them.

Other measures like ban on the use of diesel generators, allowing operation of brick kilns with zigzag technology and dust control measures at stone crushers and hot mix plants will also be enforced.

The EPCA chairman asked the chief secretary to coordinate with state electricity boards to ensure special efforts for regular electricity supply to enforce ban on diesel generators in towns including Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon.

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