Monday saw air pollution levels in the city oscillating between ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ levels. According to the graded response system, this calls for a slew of emergency measures.
The 24-hour rolling average of PM10 and PM2.5 on Monday were recorded at 257μg/m3 and 124μg/m3, respectively, according to the Ministry of Earth Science’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR). These are in “poor” and “very poor” levels respectively.
PM2.5 and PM10 are ultra-fine particles that are the dominant pollutants in Delhi. The acceptable levels of PM 2.5 and PM10 are 60μg/m3 and 100μg/m3, respectively.
According to the newly notified graded response system of the Central Pollution Control Board, ‘very poor’ category, under which PM2.5 levels are between 121-250 µg/m3 and PM10 levels are between 351-430 µg/m3, calls for measures like ban on diesel generator sets, enhancement of parking fee by up to 3-4 times and increase in bus and metro services.
“Residential Welfare Associations and individual house owners to provide electric heaters during winter to security staff to avoid open burning by them and alerts will be put out in newspapers/TV/radio to advise people with respiratory and cardiac illness to avoid polluted areas and restrict outdoor movement,” the graded response system said.
A meeting has been called by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), which has been empowered to enforce the plan, on Friday to discuss the formation of state-based special task forces. Once this is done, the guidelines of the notification will have to be implemented.
When the air quality reaches “severe” level for 48 hours, trucks, barring those carrying essential commodities, will be stopped from entering the city, the odd-even road rationing scheme will kick in, there will complete ban on the burning of waste and brink kilns operating in and around the city will be shut.
This winter season, however, air quality dipped to ‘severe’ level for two consecutive days in the city only once — the weekend after Diwali when Delhi was shrouded with smog. On many other days, the pollution levels reached ‘severe’ proportions but again subsided to ‘very poor’ levels the following day.