Pollution levels in Delhi last year were the lowest in five years, though they were still way above the permissible limit, the Delhi high court said Thursday after going through a report of the state pollution board.
Contrary to public perception, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee found the level of particulate matter 2.5, calculated over the last five years, showed the “minimum value” in 2015 and maximum in 2012, the report submitted to the court said.
However, the yearly PM2.5 average of 101.3 micrograms per cubic meter for 2015 was much higher than the maximum permissible limit of 60, cautioned senior DPCC scientist Mohan P George. The yearly average for 2012 was 167.7.
In Delhi, the biggest contributor of PM2.5 — extremely fine particles that go deep into the lungs and up the risk of respiratory diseases and cancer — is road dust, followed by vehicular emissions.
Delhi has been named the world’s most polluted by WHO, prompting the city government in January to hold a trial run of odd-even car restrictions to clear the air.
It witnesses three pollution peaks in a year — May-June, October-November and December. The winter peak is considered especially bad. According to the report, it is to a large extent due to the burning of farm stubble in neighbouring states such as Punjab and Haryana.
“Conclusion of the DPCC report and the general impression one gets is that 2015 was better from a scientific point of view. But it doesn’t mean the situation is great as PM2.5, PM10, nitrogen dioxide and benzene levels were above maximum permissible limits,” a bench of justices BD Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva, hearing a PIL initiated by themselves, said. It posted the matter for further hearing on February 10.
The court also sought to know from the Centre the status of a February 2015 Delhi Traffic Police proposal for an integrated traffic management system to free most traffic points in the city from manual operation.
In its proposal, the traffic police have identified 14 “extremely” congested junctions or corridors — including Gurgaon Road-Dhaula Kuan, Ashram Chowk, ISBT Kashmere Gate, Akshardham and Rao Tula Ram Marg.