Mathura Road and Dhirpur becoming Delhi’s new pollution hotspots | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Mathura Road and Dhirpur becoming Delhi’s new pollution hotspots

Even as the Delhi High Court directed all agencies concerned to chalk out a traffic plan for Anand Vihar, air quality data from System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) show that Mathura Road and Dhirpur now require similar attention.

Breathless in Delhi Updated: Feb 19, 2017 15:28 IST
Ritam Halder
pollution
A traffic policeman at Mathura road near New Friends Colony. Traffic congestion is the most visible issue, with pollution levels almost always in the red.(Burhaan Kinu/ HT photo)

Busy bus depots, heavy traffic, unpaved roads, landfill sites and industries are a common sight at the Capital’s pollution nodes. Air quality data now reveal that with such factors remaining unchecked, a number of areas could be turning into new pollution hotspots.

Anand Vihar along with RK Puram and Punjabi Bagh leads the polluting list and the government is struggling to find a solution to the plight of these areas.

Even as the Delhi High Court directed all agencies concerned to chalk out a traffic plan for Anand Vihar, air quality data from System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) show that Mathura Road and Dhirpur now require similar attention.

“Residential areas are being used for commercial purposes and commercial areas are used for industrial purposes. Garbage is dumped haphazardly and burnt indiscriminately. Public roads are used for parking, causing congestion,” said Dr Dipankar Saha, additional director and head of the Air Laboratory at the CPCB, adding that these factors are now leading to increasing number of areas in metros turning into critical pollution nodes.

According to SAFAR data, Mathura Road did not have even a single “good” air quality day between December 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017. There was just one “moderate” day while the rest saw “severe”, “poor” or “very poor” air quality. In this period of 62 days, 8% days were severe, 79% were very poor, 11% poor and 2% had moderate AQI. At Dhirpur, in the same period, 16% days were severe, 53% very poor, 10% poor, 11% moderate and 10% satisfactory in terms of air quality.

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In this 62-day period, across 10 monitoring stations in Delhi, 3% days were severe, 66% very poor, 24% poor, 5% moderate and 2% were satisfactory.

HT visited Mathura Road and Dhirpur to find out the reason behind these extreme pollution levels.

Mathura Road

Traffic congestion is the most visible issue. The monitoring station is almost 5 km away from points like Ashram Chowk and Kalindi Kunj but pollution levels here are in the red.

Shubham Kumar, a 30-year-old slum dweller, says winter brings bouts of cough and cold in his family. “Things have got bad in recent years. Either my two daughters are sick or my parents are. We can fight the cold weather with warm clothes but what about this haze?” he asks.

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Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy) and head of the air pollution and clean transportation programme, says Mathura Road has become a pollution hotspot and it is primarily because of the traffic volume. “A large number of commercial vehicles, including trucks, pass through this area as it on the route between Faridabad and Noida,” she said.

A 2015 CSE study revealed that on an average 85,799 light and heavy goods vehicles enter and exit Delhi from the nine busiest points daily. “Delhi’s own vehicles are responsible for 62% of the particulate load from the transport sector and 68% of the NOx load. The total number of light and heavy trucks that enter Delhi spew close to 30% of the total particulate load and 22% of the total NOx load from the transport sector,” the report said.

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Another factor is the Badarpur Power Plant, located near Mathura Road. Though closed now, it still has a huge ash pond spread over hundreds of hectares of land. In the summers, high wind speed easily suspends the fly ash. Okhla Industrial Area and Okha landfill site also add to the foul air quality here.

Dhirpur

Located between Kingsway Camp, Mukherjee Nagar and Burari - a few kilometres away from Majnu Ka Tilla - this area is a dust bowl. KB Hegdeshwar Marg runs through with unpaved sides causing vast dust pollution. With PWD construction in the middle of the road, waste dumped on the sides add to the dust cloud.

“Vehicular congestion is also a daily problem here. Patches at the nearby Bhalaswa landfill keep burning all night. Small industrial units have also spread in nearby villages,” said Ashok Bhasin, president of the North Delhi Resident Welfare Association Federation.