After a week of people gasping for breath amid high pollution levels caused by smog in the Capital, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) on Monday said it could not do much about it.
"Pollutants remain hung in the air because of the smog. It's not that the emission has gone up alarmingly. It's the accumulation which is causing problem. It's an annual phenomenon," said DPCC member secretary Sandeep Mishra.
However, Met officials at IGI Airport said such smoggy conditions were witnessed only in 1998, 2008 and 2011.
"Pollution in Delhi is mostly because of vehicles. There are about 70 lakh of them. We cannot stop their operation. There is only one thermal power station (at Badarpur). We don't have polluting industries. But the problem has aggravated due to plant stubble burning incidences in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh," Mishra said.But experts do not buy the argument.
Anumita Roy Choudhury of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said. "Winters arrive in every country. Because of low wind speed, pollutants don't spread, leading to their build-up. But the air is not as smothering everywhere. You can't blame the weather alone."
"In countries such as US, Mexico and Hong Kong, operation of vehicles is regulated to check pollution emission. There are smog alerts. The elderly, children and people suffering from respiratory problems are advised not to venture out. But nothing of that sort is done in our country," she added.
"Pollution levels in Delhi have been going up since 2006. At places, it's as high as eight times of the desirable limit. We have lost the post-CNG advantage. A comprehensive action plan has to be put in place," Choudhury said.
Terming Delhi a 'gas chamber', she said while the 'desirable' level of particulate matters is 100 microgram per cubic meter (mg/cu m), it hovered between 500 and 900 last week, depending on the locality.
Government officials said they are hoping that wind velocity, which is pretty low now, will rise and clear the sky.
Sunlight will heat the earth and the wind will start moving upwards. Even rains can clear up the sky.
"If the vertical wind velocity is 1 m/sec and horizontal wind velocity is 3m/sec, the smog can clear up," Mishra said.