The National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked authorities in the national capital on Tuesday to find a solution to growing air pollution in the city, considering a report that the odd-even road rationing formula tested this April had little impact.
The city of about 20 million, which ranks among the world’s top cities with foul air on a WHO list, has been struggling to clean up its air that contains a toxic cocktail of dust, smoke and gases from vehicle and factory exhausts.
The condition worsens every autumn and winter as the city, buffeted by farmers burning crop stalks in neighbouring states and atmospheric changes, records higher levels of air pollution. Farm fires have already started in Punjab and Haryana.
Monitoring stations on Tuesday called the city’s air quality “very poor”, a category that causes breathing problems and respiratory illnesses after prolonged exposure.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded 120.8 micrograms of PM2.5 and 248 micrograms of PM10 per cubic metre around 5.30pm, which is much more than the safe limits of 60 and 100.
Both these are suspended micro-fine pollutants harmful for humans.
The NGT, which is taking city authorities to task for air pollution, called a meeting between the Delhi chief secretary, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and similar stakeholders to find a solution.
The tribunal’s order follows the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) report that there was no improvement in air quality during the second week of the Delhi government’s odd-even scheme in April.
Citing that report, the tribunal asked the chief secretary to convene a meeting and listed the matter for its next hearing on November 16.
The CPCB had told the tribunal that lower vehicular emission in the second week didn’t impact pollution levels. The board monitored several pollutants between April 1 and 14 before the odd-even fortnight kicked in. The road rationing in April was preceded by a similar test in January.