Delhi air quality improves – to ‘severe’

Stubble burning continues, odd-even vehicle regulation kicks in, PM hold review meet

GN Bureau | November 6, 2019


#air pollution   #environment   #Delhi  
Delhi sky on Wednesday morning (Photo: Governance Now)
Delhi sky on Wednesday morning (Photo: Governance Now)

With improvement in air quality on Wednesday, the capital seems to be emerging out of a nightmare, though the situation continues to be worrisome as the stubble burning in farms of neighbouring Punjab and Haryana continued.

Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) was 389 on Wednesday morning – far better than close to 1,000 on Sunday, the day of darkness at noon. However, 389 is classified as ‘severe’, and the capital continued to be most polluted among leading cities. Only Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh was placed higher (440), while among major cities, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi and Patna were above 300 on the AQI.

On Tuesday, prime minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting to discuss the situation arising due to pollution in various part of Northern India. Moreover, the union cabinet secretary reviewed the progress made in the arrangements since Sunday to control air pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR).

It was observed that the cases of crop stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana still continued and that there was a need for more focused action, an official note said. “These states have now been directed that more monitoring teams should be deployed on the field to ensure that the violators are taken to task by imposing suitable penalties.”

The situation in the capital where different agencies are coordinating was also discussed and it was felt that there was a need for enhanced efforts to control the situation. The states have also been directed to ensure that they are fully prepared for meeting any exigency in the future.

From Monday, the Delhi government has also implemented for the third time the ‘odd-even scheme’, asking half the private four-wheeler vehicles to keep off the roads. The move is expected to reduce the air pollution from vehicle exhaust.

The schools have opened in the capital after a break of two days due to severe pollution.

Delhi seems to have put the annual date with severe air pollution behind for the time being, but as the chief cause – stubble burning – remains unaddressed, the capital will again have to brace itself for more of the same next year.

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